Hurricane Matthew, a major hurricane that barely missed Florida’s east coast, caused a substantial amount of damage to Florida. Florida’s east coast from Miami to Fernandina Beach saw the effects of Matthew, triggering evacuation notices for nearly 1.5 million Floridians and causing power outages throughout the state.
Florida’s first responders deserve a great deal of praise for their ability to maintain safety and order in the nearly 400-mile-long path of the hurricane. In addition, I think it’s important to recognize some of our very own Florida-based companies who helped our first responders do their jobs effectively, allowing for our residents to return to normal as soon as possible.
Harris Corp., Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy, Tampa Electric, Gulf Power, and JEA, some of Florida’s largest employers, worked to restore power and ensure the safety and security of our citizens during the storm. Each company had a role to play and performed remarkably.
Florida Power & Light worked diligently throughout the storm to restore power to over 1.2 million customers. Power was restored to 70 percent of FP&L customers within 24 hours and to 98 percent of their customers within 48 hours. This response was not hastily put together, but rather, was the result of years of planning and development.
Duke Energy set a company record for the pace at which they were able to restore power to nearly 1.5 million customers in North and South Carolina, while Tampa Electric restored power to the more than 11,000 Floridians in their areas that were impacted, and then quickly moved nearly 300 of their employees to help restore electric services in other communities in Florida.
Gulf Power, while not directly affected by Matthew, joined the dozens of utility companies who were staged around the state waiting for the storm to pass. When the immediate threat was over, they sent equipment and personnel to aid in the recovery process for Florida homeowners. Altogether, nearly 15,000 workers from around the country were on the ground to deliver a quick recovery.
Another important role in the response to the storm came from Harris Corporation, operator of the Statewide Law Enforcement Radio System (SLERS). Matthew marked the 10th hurricane in a row that SLERS remained fully operational with no reported service interruptions. During Hurricane Matthew, officers sent and received 2.2 million calls, keeping them connected and safe while in harm’s way. Harris is also the radio provider for FP&L, ensuring their technicians were always aware of the most time sensitive power restoration needs.
Special recognition needs to be given to the dozens of local chambers of commerce in communities up and down Florida’s east coast. Before and after the storm, the Florida Chamber was in contact with local chambers in the impacted area, ensuring they were both prepared in advance and safe following the storms impact.
Local chambers of commerce are often the primary organization many look to for leadership and guidance during the recovery process. With that in mind, the Florida Chamber was pleased to connect impacted local chambers on a conference call with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio – facilitating FEMA and post-storm recovery information and assistance.
As Florida moves on and continues the recovery process, as businesses return to normal and communities put cleanup efforts behind them, the Florida Chamber recognizes that hurricanes are part of Florida’s reality. Yet, in our state’s time of need, Florida businesses came together, stepped up and showed the world that when Florida businesses unite, Florida wins.