Rick DelaHaya with Gulf Power spoke about what crews are doing to restore power to the Panhandle area and what residents can do to help.
He says it will take some time to completely restore power to the Panhandle.
MORE: ‘Prepare to be without power for weeks’: Gulf Power gives estimated restoration times
DelaHaya says in the last 72 hours, Gulf Power has made significant progress, restoring power to about 5,000 customers on the beach.
He says crews are slowly working eastward.
“You can’t go anywhere in this city without seeing a line of trucks, without seeing them stringing wires, without them putting poles in the ground,” says DelaHaya “But it’s going to take a while.”
The extensive damage is evident, with thousands of snapped poles and lines on the roads.
“Usually in a storm, we tell people we’re coming in to restore power,” says DelaHaya. “This one? It’s a rebuild.”
Gulf Power has received assistance from about 15 to 20 different states, allowing them to have an estimated 6,000 personnel on the ground around the county.
DelaHaya says the initial stage is evaluating the critical infrastructure and deciding what needs to be done first.
“When I speak about critical infrastructures, we’re looking at hospitals, we’re looking at first responders, we’re looking to get power to the wastewater treatment plant because everybody wants water,” says DelaHaya.
He says substations need to be able to receive power before it can be distributed to neighborhoods.
Gulf Power says it would be a good idea for residents to flip the breakers off in their houses.
“We could turn the power on and it could just keep surging,” says DelaHaya. “So if you have electronics and things that you want to be protected, you should turn the power off.”
Residents are also encouraged to leave one light on so neighbors and crews know when the which substations are distributing power.
Gulf Power says they have to focus on the extensive damage before they can give an estimate of when power will be completely restored.
Lines and transformers, poles will be cleared before they can rebuild the system.
DelaHaya also says not to disturb the thousands of crews on the road.
“Don’t stop and ask them ‘when’s my power going to be on,'” says DelaHaya. “If they are uninterrupted, they can get it on a lot quicker.”
Gulf Power expects to have more numbers in the next few days.