September 14, 2017

Just As Hurricane Irma’s Destruction Was Wide-spread, Powerful, And Unprecedented—so Are Response And Recovery Efforts


On September 11, at Hurricane Irma’s peak, more than 7.8 million customers were without power in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina—leading to one of the largest restoration efforts in United States history. The response to Irma was swift and efficient with more than 60,000 electrical workers from across the country working around the clock to rebuild infrastructure and restore power. As of last night (Wednesday) at 7 p.m., crews already restored more than half of the outages.

As the largest power restoration effort in United States history, the effort requires precise planning and extensive collaboration.

At 6 a.m. on Wednesday morning 22 of our linemen, service representatives, and mechanics left in a convoy for Tampa, Florida, taking three digger derricks, 11 bucket trucks, a mechanic repair truck, and one pickup. The team travelled throughout the day and remained in close contact with local crews and mutual aid personnel. By the end of the day lead utilities on the scene asked us to stand down, which is common in these situations.

“Restoration is about having the right people, at the right time, with the right equipment, doing the right things,” said Line Methods Training Specialist Joe Bruechert, who is coordinating this mutual aid effort. “This is a complex effort. We understand that our boots aren’t yet needed on the ground. But our team is proud of our counterparts who are safely and efficiently making history through unprecedented restoration and recovery efforts. They don’t need us now, but we’re ready and waiting for the call when they do.”

“Before our team left early Wednesday morning, they had said goodbye to their families, postponed plans, and prepared for long days in harsh conditions,” said President Tim Rogelstad. “That says volumes about their character, dedication to serving customers, and willingness to work. Our industry is a united front. Everyone—the people directly affected by Irma’s devastation, our customers here at home, and citizens across the United States—should take comfort in knowing that.”

September 13, 2017

Hurricane Irma is unprecedented—bringing damage to every county in Florida and Georgia, as well as to parts of Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Destruction is extensive, catastrophic, and widespread. Restoring power outages left in Irma’s wake will be one of the largest and most complex industry restoration efforts in United States history. Otter Tail Power Company is mindful of the hardship posed for the many people without electricity and is sending crews to assist with power restoration efforts.

At 6:00 this morning 22 Otter Tail Power Company linemen, service representatives, and mechanics left in a convoy for Tampa, Florida, taking three digger derricks, 11 bucket trucks, a mechanic repair truck, and one pickup.

Utilities stand ready to assist each other when disaster hits. More than 250 investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives—from across the United States and Canada—are sending workers dedicated to supporting restoration efforts.

“We are joining 60,000 electrical workers already on the ground in the power restoration effort,” said Otter Tail Power Company Line Methods Training Specialist Joe Bruechert, who is also making the trip. “Reliable electric service is at the core of our industry. But catastrophic weather can happen at any time—even without notice—bringing entire systems down. The skills required to repair these systems are highly specialized and the work is dangerous. But we know what it takes to pull through something like this and we’ll be there to help.”

The two-week absence of these crews will not impact the electric service we provide our own customers. “Disaster recovery certainly is no small feat—for the crews going or the crews staying to ensure continued reliable service right at home,” said Otter Tail Power Company President Tim Rogelstad. “We help our neighbors, near or far—it’s a part of our mission, vision, and values. And we’re happy to do what we can. We know we’d want the same for our customers.”