NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. - What does it take to get your power back on after a major storm? LCEC says try 250 pounds of beef jerky, seven tractor trailers of Gatorade and a 5 a.m. wake-up call. That's what it took to restore power to all 150,000 of its customers after Hurricane Charley.
"With Charley, our entire customer base at one time was without power," said LCEC Public Relations Manager, Karen Ryan. "...some of the lessons we learned, was make sure we get our resources quickly. That worked well for us."
Before Hurricane Charley was a category 4 major storm, LCEC was in hurricane mode.
"We have fuel providers that are on site so we make sure that they're ready and here before a storm even gets here. Out-of-town crews, tree trimmers, materials... we also have to make sure that they have food so we set that up-- an entire kitchen and we serve at least 1500 meals a day," explained Ryan.
And for Charley, just like for Wilma a year later, during and after a storm, everyone at LCEC is part of the company's restoration plan.
"Might be someone from IT department might be taking calls. Or someone from accounting might be delivering parts or food to our crews," Ryan said.
Some other jobs assigned to employees: laundry duty.
"You wouldn't think about that but when you have 500 people working out in the field and they're not from here and the temperature is hot and they could be in mud up to their neck trying to restore facilities," Ryan told us.
She also said that her company was well prepared for Charley and Wilma because of what they do year round.
"We believe that proactively maintaining our system and managing our vegetation really helps when it comes to storm season. One of the biggest cause for wire down and broken polls is flying debris and trees," said Ryan.
And this storm season, LCEC has another tool, its updated systems operations center, the nerve hub of the power plant. From there, employees can monitor weather, the power grid, and crews.
Believe it or not, the high-tech set up is rather new, only in place since December 2012. Before that, employees had to get up and go to a static map on the wall.
"They'd have to put on a sticker or they'd have to remove lines and re-route them in different ways," said Ryan.
With their plans in place, LCEC says it's ready for what ever comes it way.
"The number one thing is be patient. We are very good at restoring power and we do have have a method," Ryan said.
Just like LCEC, FPL has a method for restoring power too. Power companies focus on getting critical, emergency responders up and running first, then branch out to the more populated outage areas.
Both LCEC and FPL urge all of their customers to never touch a downed power line, it may still be live. Instead make sure to report any power line that is on the ground to your utility company. Also, be careful of power lines buried under piles of debris, when cleaning up after a storm.