As the 20th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew is observed, Florida Power & Light Company is paying special tribute to the members of its team whose work is critical to providing reliable power year-round and in the wake of devastating storms - electrical workers.
Karl Greer, an FPL electric worker based in South Florida, knows the importance of having a plan and being prepared because Greer rode out Hurricane Andrew 20 years ago with his family in Homestead, the storm’s ground zero. After the storm, he worked 16-hour shifts alongside thousands of FPL employees until power was fully restored.
“We put up wires and poles for a living, but the need I saw after Hurricane Andrew was unlike anything that I had ever witnessed,” said Greer. “Andrew taught us all a vital lesson about the seriousness of storms, and the need for serious preparation.”
Greer’s experience during Andrew was like many in the region. At 12:35 a.m., his power went out, and the noise of the wind and debris against the shutters grew so loud that he and his family could barely hear their own voices. When daylight arrived, he went outside to find his roof in tatters, and each of the 29 mature pine trees in his yard fallen. His uncle’s home on a neighboring property, once a two story residence, had been cut in half, with only the bottom floor remaining.
However, Greer had to put aside his personal challenges, because duty called. “The roads were all blocked, but as soon as I could I was at FPL with my crew, getting the power back on,” said Greer. “In one area, we replaced every single pole along a 6-mile stretch. It was tough, but what kept me going was the thought that my friends and family were counting on us; people all throughout the area were counting on us.”
The efforts of electric workers and other dedicated employees after Hurricane Andrew helped to improve FPL’s preparations for storms and the recovery that follows. The strategies employed to create restoration staging areas to coordinate with out-of-state service providers to assist with field operations were formed by experiences in Hurricane Andrew.
“Our electric workers are our first responders, consistently answering the call for help, whether it’s working to upgrade our electrical system on a daily basis or leading the charge after a storm,” said Keith Hardy, FPL’s vice president of Distribution. “We are showing our appreciation by celebrating throughout August, especially on Sunday Aug. 26, Lineworker Appreciation Day in Florida.”
To hear more from FPL electric workers that were on the ground during Hurricane Andrew, click here.