Eversource CT crews anxious to help despite challenges while traveling through aftermath of Irma in Florida

Eversource CT crews anxious to help despite challenges while traveling through aftermath of Irma in Florida


Thousands of line workers, including crews from Eversource Energy in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, are facing challenges in Florida where they are working to restore power to millions of residents following Hurricane Irma.

The Eversource crews are staged in the parking lot of a former bus facility in Melbourne, Florida. The original staging area was crowded with other restoration crews, so they moved to the massive parking lot in Melbourne, which is on the east coast of Florida, said Farrah Duffany, a Wallingford resident, former Record-Journal reporter and social media specialist with Eversource CT. The parking lot has become a tent camp for workers.

Duffany accompanied a contingent of 14 Eversource line trucks that drove to Florida to help the state’s electric company, Florida Power & Light, restore power. They arrived in the state Monday.

Justin Fletcher, an Eversource supervisor from Connecticut, said part of the challenge for the line workers has been getting to their destination in Florida. It’s been difficult just keeping the trucks fueled as vehicles line up at gas stations.

“There have been lines of people backing up onto the highway,” he said. “People are trying to get back to their homes, trying to get the remaining gas there is.”

Fletcher said he hopes things get easier in the coming days to “help expedite the restoration process.”

“We’re looking forward to getting out in the field and putting some lights on,” he said.

During her travels in Florida, Duffany has seen the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Homes are flooded, there is brush blown by the hurricane everywhere and trees are damaged, as are many power lines.

“You can’t tell who has power or who doesn’t until night,” she said.

At one point, she and her travel partner took a wrong turn down a road lined with homes at night and “it was just black,” Duffany said. “That’s the area we are in. These people don’t have air-conditioning. It’s 90 degrees. We want to do our best to help them out.”

“It’s kind of scary to see all these houses completely in the dark,” she added.

On Tuesday night, Duffany and another Eversource employee went to a Waffle House in a town near Melbourne for dinner.

“It was inundated with so many people who didn’t have power,” she said, adding that the restaurant had a limited menu and couldn’t serve water.

She heard people talking around her. Many didn’t have running water in their homes, and some didn’t expect it for over two weeks. Others didn’t have power and had nothing to eat because all the food in their fridge went bad.

“It was so hot during the day,” Duffany said. “When we sat down, we were so exhausted from driving. But then we listened to their stories. We didn’t feel as bad about how we felt because these people were living this a lot longer than we’ve been.”

Duffany said the staging area in Melbourne “is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

“There’s a huge tent that can fit hundreds of people,” she said.

Eversource crews have been warned to look out for scorpions, spiders and fire ants.

“In New England we don’t have that kind of threat,” Duffany said.

In addition, they have been told to drink plenty of water in the heat.

“These workers are facing not only the heat, but so many elements,” she said.

Fletcher said crews are in good spirits, with showers and running water available at the staging area.

“We just want to get people’s lights on so they can have that same comfort,” he said.

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