Let’s be honest. Florida, without a sliver of doubt, dodged a bullet named Hurricane Dorian. However, we continue to be in the heart of hurricane season. Early October is the historical peak of hurricane season in Florida. So, it’s vitally important that we don’t let our guard down.
The monster, Category 5 Dorian was on a collision course with the Sunshine State before it stalled less than 100 miles off our coastline for almost two days and ultimately meandered north.
The heartbreaking destruction in the Bahamas easily could have happened in Florida and, at one point, was forecast to do so. Florida Power & Light Company’s sophisticated, internal-damage modeling technology showed that a direct hit from Dorian would have meant rebuilding part of our system, not simply restoring power. After all, even concrete and steel structures can be damaged from such a powerful storm.
That’s important because restoring power is typically measured in days. Rebuilding the energy grid is measured in weeks.
It’s the reason why FPL pre-staged a restoration workforce of 17,000 men and women — the largest in our company’s history. Crews from many states left their families to make the multi-day drive toward the unprecedented storm.
While Dorian’s catastrophic winds and storm surge didn’t reach Florida, the hurricane’s slow, paralleling trek just off the state’s eastern coastline whipped ashore feeder bands that packed enough of a punch to topple trees, ripping down power lines and knocking out electricity to 160,000 FPL customers.
FPL’s investments in building a stronger, smarter energy grid, once again, paid off for customers by limiting the damage and significantly speeding our restoration efforts. In fact, smart-grid technology alone helped us avoid more than 37,000 outages and, in some cases, allowed us to restore power to customers before it was safe to send crews into the field.
Simply put, after an unnerving week of intense preparation for millions of Floridians in the storm’s potential path, our state was back to normal just hours after the storm passed.
For so many of us, Dorian will go down in the books as the storm that didn’t hit us — and, in the years to come, is unlikely to be remembered with the same attention in Florida as Michael, Irma, Wilma and Andrew of hurricane seasons past.
That would be a mistake.
Living here comes with the fundamental responsibility of preparing for hurricanes. The difference between taking a direct hit from a hurricane and receiving a glancing blow is razor-thin and something we cannot leave to chance.
It’s why I want to extend to our customers, and all Floridians, the challenge I’ve presented to each and every one of our employees at FPL. And that is to take a hard look at your hurricane plan and simply ask yourself — were you truly ready for Dorian?
For many of our customers and the families of our employees, the preparation for Hurricane Dorian meant making the difficult and emotional decision to evacuate in the face of one of the most powerful storms ever recorded.
Have you and your family determined where you will go in the event of an evacuation? If you choose to stay, are you prepared to live without power, running water, fuel and other essential goods and services for an extended period of time?
As Floridians, these are the important questions to ask ourselves. And, we must ask these questions now.
Take the time to visit FPL.com/Storm for tips on how to prepare your home or business for a hurricane.
I commit to you that FPL will do everything we can to make sure we’re in the best possible position to restore power safely and quickly following a storm. We ask that you do everything you can to protect your family, your pets and your home.
At the end of the day, as Floridians, we’re all in this together.
Eric Silagy is president and chief executive officer of Florida Power & Light Company.