Hermine epilogue: Honor from Governor Scott is the happy punctuation after the storm

Governor Rick Scott and his wife at the Florida governor's mansion with TECO team members.

Governor Rick Scott and his wife at the Florida governor’s mansion with TECO team members.

TECO team members don’t look for thanks for doing their jobs, especially when it’s all about restoring power for the community after severe weather. In fact, we’re so committed to safety and health in these situations, for you and our people – alongside reliable service – that we work all year round to be ready.

But if thanks come, a fair number of the men and women of TECO will probably admit it: it feels nice. And if the governor of Florida is the one saying thanks – well, that’s extra special.

That was the scene last week at the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee as Rick Scott shared his appreciation with a special dinner for Florida’s utility linemen and emergency management professionals in honor of their work during Hurricane Hermine – the most significant weather event to impact the state in 11 years.

“Florida wrote the book on emergency preparedness and Governor Scott is keeping Florida’s reputation intact through his leadership,” said Billy Stiles, manager of Regulatory Affairs with Tampa Electric in Tallahassee. “Hosting an appreciation dinner was a fitting way for the governor to recognize the efforts of all the men and women who pitched in to get Florida back to normal after Hurricane Hermine.”

With Stiles and nine Tampa Electric linemen at the event was Gerry Chasse, vice president of Electric Delivery and among the newest members of TECO’s leadership team after our merger with Emera, Inc. in July. Chasse most recently served as vice chair of the Emera Maine Board of Directors – and if “trial by fire” isn’t the most accurate phrase to describe what it’s like to join a major Florida utility during hurricane season, “trial by water” might be closer to the mark.

“I’ve been incredibly impressed with the focus on safety, service to the community and overall commitment to excellence on the part of everyone I’ve worked with at Tampa Electric,” Chasse said. “I’m quickly coming to see that those qualities are never more evident than when our employees come together to restore service in severe-weather events.”

He added, “The men and women who do the strenuous, time-sensitive hard work of power restoration deserve our gratitude – and the praise from Governor Scott is validation that their efforts are recognized and appreciated.”

Lineman Supervisor Tony Faison was among those who attended the dinner at the governor’s mansion. With 26 years at Tampa Electric, he’s seen a lot of bad weather – and he said Hermine was deceptively intense.

“The storm seemed mild at first, but the tail end of the storm – and the heavy bands after it passed – created significant damage in the Brandon and Plant City areas,” he said. “By that point, we were really glad once again for the comprehensive training the company makes sure we have.”

He continued, “Meeting the governor and his wife, on the other hand, was wonderful. The leadership from Billy, Gerry and others at TECO made possible a great, humbling experience that we won’t forget.”

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