On October 10, 2018, the panhandle of Florida was devastated by Hurricane Michael – a strong, Category 4 hurricane with winds at 155 mph (just 2 mph below a Category 5). It was the strongest hurricane on record to ever strike the region, and the fourth strongest (by wind speed) to ever make landfall in the contiguous United States. It remained a Category 4 as it tore through the panhandle destroying thousands of homes and buildings, splintering trees, and crumbling roads and utility infrastructure in its wake.
At peak, more than 400,000 customers in the region were without power, with nearly 122,000 of them from five Florida public power communities – Tallahassee, Havana, Quincy, Chattahoochee and Blountstown. Tallahassee had more than 113,000, or 95%, of its customers out and lost nearly 60% of its transmission. Havana, Quincy, Chattahoochee and Blountstown were left 100% in the dark. Once again, working through the APPA mutual aid network, FMEA put out a long-range call for mutual aid assistance and public power responded immediately. More than 600 personnel from 16 states and more than 80 utilities came to help restore power and rebuild the electric grid in those communities. Thousands of people’s lives were forever changed on October 10th and it will take some time to fully rebuild the communities that were so severely devasted. Already, just over a week later, Tallahassee and Havana are back up and running, and Chattahoochee, Quincy and Blountstown are rebuilding their systems and restoring power to more and more customers every day as quickly and safely as possible. FMEA extends our heartfelt appreciation to everyone that reached out to help us and our neighbors, especially to all the lineworkers who suffered through some difficult situations to come to our aid and help restore power to our communities. Words cannot describe how incredibly grateful we are to each and every one of you. Thank you.