Extreme weather is nothing new for Texans. With hurricane season in full swing, Lubbock Power and Light was on standby to assist neighbors near and far. As news of Hurricane Ian’s landfall spread, the LP&L crew was one of the first to respond to Lakeland Electric’s call for assistance, following the Category 4 storm that left 2.7 million Floridians without power.
Through mutual aid agreements, Lubbock Power and Light offers assistance to other utilities in the face of disaster. For Joel Ivy, LP&L’s director of electric utilities, there was no question about offering mutual aid to Lakeland Electric in their time of crisis.
“A cornerstone principle of our industry is helping our neighbors in need, because that’s what neighbors do,” said Ivy. “Without hesitation, we are there for each other during hardships to support one another the best we can.”
On Wednesday, Sept. 28, 17 LP&L crewmembers and 15 trucks departed for Lakeland, Florida, first going through Jackson, Mississippi and Montgomery, Alabama to wait out the storm. The team consisted of two construction crews, three service crews and one mechanic.
Upon arrival in Lakeland, Florida, the LP&L team went straight to work alongside the Lakeland Electric staff. The teams primarily worked on repairing broken poles and downed wires and swapping out transformers. By the end of the first day, power was restored to almost 9,000 residents. Gracious Lakeland residents brought cases of water and pizza to support the crews.
“Every time we got power on, people were cheering and telling us ‘thank you,’” said Anthony Reynolds, LP&L power line foreman. “We flew a Texas flag down there, so everybody knew where we were from.”
Work continued, and by the end of day two, almost 80% of the city’s power was restored through repairing hundreds of structures, putting up miles of wire and trimming countless trees.
From there on out, work began in difficult-to-reach areas with linemen having to manually climb poles where trucks could not fit. The teams worked tirelessly in the final days, amidst the heat, humidity and unfamiliar elements, hand digging poles and manually putting wire up.
“There were a few things that were different than what we experience in Lubbock,” said Reynolds. “For instance, in Florida there are palm trees and frogs that get in the open wire. In Lubbock, it’s typically high winds and squirrels that cause our outages.”
The team’s hard work certainly paid off. Within five long 16-hour days, all storm-related outages were restored, thanks to the collective effort from LP&L crews, other mutual aid partners and Lakeland Electric’s staff.
After a nearly 3,000-mile roundtrip journey, the LP&L team is back home now.
“It was an honor to represent Lubbock and accomplish our duty,” said Brady Anderson, LP&L overhead transmission and distribution supervisor. “As linemen, we are all considered family. When the time comes, go answer the call to help your brother lineman in another place."
All expenses incurred while providing aid to Lakeland will be fully reimbursed to LP&L through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) federal disaster declaration for Hurricane Ian.