Hurricane Michael came barreling through the Panhandle on October 10, leaving a path of devastation in its wake. West Florida Electric Cooperative’s (WFEC’s) electric distribution system received significant damage caused by very high winds and rain. The cooperative serves approximately 28,000 meters in Calhoun, Holmes, Jackson & Washington Counties. On October 11, all but 189 of those meters were without power.
Crews began working immediately assessing the damage caused by this catastrophic storm, the likes of which no one in the Florida Panhandle has ever seen.
Linemen faced many challenges when trying to restore power to WFEC members including hazards such as
trees on roads, trees tangled with poles and power lines and other debris blocking access for crucial equipment.
PowerSouth, the cooperative’s generation and transmission cooperative also experienced damage to its transmission system, which had to be repaired before linemen were able to energize local sections of
Another challenge faced by the cooperative included communications equipment failure. When local phone
service goes out, so do internal and external communications. This made it impossible for co-op members
to call to report power outages.
To date, the cooperative has received help from over 1,000 linemen and right-of-way workers from across the country. This is the most line workers ever used for hurricane restoration by any co-op in the state of Florida. Early estimates are that this rebuild and restoration of WFEC’s electric distribution system will cost
$30-$35 million. Restoration efforts continue at the time of publication.
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