Utility crews prep for power outages

Some Tennessee utilities are waiting to see what impact Irma has on the state before sending any crews to help in Georgia and Florida.

Power crews from East Tennessee are prepared to deal with outages at home and hundreds of miles away as Irma continues its path of destruction.

As of Monday night, about 5 million people in Florida were in the dark, and more than 900,000 Georgia Power customers were without electricity. 

Crews across the country and in East Tennessee are sending help, but companies are also keeping crews at home on standby as Irma makes its way closer to the Knoxville area. 

Appalachian Electric Cooperative is sending 12 linemen to Georgia on Tuesday morning, according to Vice President of Engineering and Operations Joe McCarter. The crews will stage there and then either stay in Georgia or head on to Florida. 

"That's one of the cooperative principles is helping people out," McCarter said. "We have reciprocal agreements with Florida and Georgia to help them out when they need crews, and they do the same for us when we need crews up here." 

More: Irma proves to be a windy, wet nuisance in ET

The crews are expected to stay for 10 days to two weeks, but McCarter said the co-op is keeping linemen in East Tennessee to serve its members if Irma does any damage to power lines here. 

"We hope it's just going to be a little bit of wind and some rain," McCarter said. "We've got some contingency plans for that. We're letting about half our crews go and keeping the other half here." 

Lenoir City Utilities Board (LCBU) also has crews on standby after five of its contract crews were released to help with Irma. 
 
"Most contractors are on their way to Texas or Florida so we've gotta handle a severe storm on our own without any support from anyone else," said Shannon Littleton, LCUB general manager. 
 
LCUB divided up its crews to make sure customers are covered through Tuesday morning. 
 
"Our crews here, we think, are second to none so we're prepared for anything mother nature may throw at us." 
 
Crews at Knoxville Utilities Board (KUB) were alerted last week they may be called in if conditions warrant. KUB will make a decision whether to send any crews to Florida after they see what kind of impact Irma has on East Tennessee. 

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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