Lansing BWL Crews Helping Florida Recover from Hurricane Irma
The Lansing Board of Water & Light (BWL) sent a line crew to Ft. Pierce, Florida last week and ahead of Hurricane Irma to aid in power restorations that are expected to result from the massive hurricane. The BWL will also release eight contract tree trimming crews; both crews will meet up with other Michigan utilities.
The three-man line crew including members Jack Houghtaling, John Ebe and Ted Sayen left at 6:30 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 8 to embark on their journey to help the southern state in minimizing damages and recovering power for residents to begin healing from any destruction.
The trimming crews will assist in securing and clearing trees. In the event of category four and five hurricanes, it’s tougher to prepare due to the inevitable intensity of the storms; for lower ranked hurricanes, crews can be especially vital to help minimize damage with home and property owners.
Hurricane Irma is one of the strongest hurricanes ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean, and one of the top five most forceful storms in what is approaching a century. Previously rated up to a Category 5 storm as it ploughed through the Caribbean, Irma stepped down its intensity to Category 4 by landfall this past Sunday in the Florida Keys; it is now classified as a lesser tropical storm with 70 mph gusts of wind, heading toward Georgia and Alabama.
The BWL has a long-standing history of extending help during storm restorations. Two crews were sent in August 2015 to Traverse City following heavy thunderstorms and tornadoes. Crews were also sent to aid in restorations following Hurricane Sandy in 2012. While the current crews anticipate two weeks of need in Florida, they are prepared to extend plans based on the severity of the damage.
The Board of Water & Light is a municipally owned public utility with roots going back to 1885, when Lansing citizens approved a $100,000 bond issue to build a water system to provide for drinking water and fire protection. Owned and operated by hometown people, the BWL has grown to become the third largest electric utility in the state, the largest municipally owned utility in Michigan and a major employer in the Lansing area.
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