As Tropical Storm Katrina approaches Florida's southeast coast, Florida Power & Light Company is making preparations and encouraging its customers to do the same since Katrina is headed for a highly urban area with significant electrical infrastructure exposure. Forecasters say the tropical storm has a high potential of reaching hurricane strength before making landfall.
"We have initiated our storm restoration planning efforts and will be ready for whatever this storm has in store for south and southwest Florida," said Geisha Williams, FPL vice president of distribution. "Forecasts indicate we should expect heavy rain fall, potential flooding and a lot of tree debris. Flooding may affect underground facilities and outages might be prolonged as a result.
"We are taking this storm seriously and are urging our customers to do likewise. Please prepare for extended outages and keep your families safe. After the storm, our efforts will be directed to restoring service to critical infrastructure first, immediately followed by restoring power to the largest number of customers in the shortest time by working on our major lines."
Katrina's forecasted path will pass over some of the most densely populated areas in South Florida, potentially causing hundreds of thousands of outages. FPL serves 4.3 million homes and businesses in Florida. In excess of 1.6 million of those customers - approximately 3 million people -- live in urban South Florida.
FPL has activated its storm plan and its emergency center in Miami. Work is already underway to acquire additional utility workers to assist with restoration efforts, and approximately 1,700 are already traveling to Florida. Thousands more are expected to join the FPL team over the next few days. FPL also will be working hand-in-hand with emergency management officials so that we can be as responsive as possible to the restoration priorities they deem most critical to the public's health and safety.
FPL wants you to have accurate information that will help
We use a well-tested plan to restore service. Here's how we work:
-- First we assess the overall system and repair FPL power plants and the major lines that carry power from plants to towns and communities.
-- Next, we restore service to critical infrastructure to facilitate the work of those who provide for community health, safety and public welfare -- such as hospitals, police, fire, communications and water, sanitary and transportation providers.
-- We simultaneously deploy field teams to conduct neighborhood-by-neighborhood damage assessments. We do this so the right resources, crews and materials are assigned to each effort. We also set up special staging sites to begin work in the areas that were hit the hardest.
-- After dealing with restoring service to critical infrastructure, we restore all other customers using a priority restoration process. The process focuses on making repairs to electrical facilities that will return power to the largest number of people first, then the next largest number, and so on, until power is returned to everyone.
-- Work is not assigned according to when you called to report your outage, where you live or the status of your account. Work will begin in multiple locations wherever we have damage and customers out of service, and it will progress according to a plan that prioritizes groups over individuals.