In the end, the forces of nature were no match for the forces of law and order, together with firefighters and other first responders, who supported TECO’s efforts to get the lights back on for the community after Hurricane Irma.
While the biggest storm Florida has seen in years produced a historic restoration effort, cooperation between TECO and first responders across the area produced scenarios that helped us restore power faster. From providing dedicated Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Deputies at certain TECO staging areas to closing off streets where downed power lines could be deadly – and in the end, just being at the ready in case our crews had a health or safety emergency – these were the people working alongside us on the front lines of the power restoration process.
To say thanks, TECO hosted a banquet for law enforcement and firefighters at Hotel Wimauma on Sept. 17. About 20 deputies and a dozen firefighters were on hand for the occasion.
“It was a great dinner and a humbling, rewarding experience to get to meet people that to us are honorary TECO team members!” said Mark Downing, corporate director of Safety. “With restoration in full swing, when we’re racing to safely restore power for the community as quickly as possible, you just don’t always have the opportunity to thank our area’s incredible first responders for their outstanding work. This dinner was meant to help fix that.”
Echoing Downing’s praise was Al Perotti, director of Corporate Security & Emergency Management.
“In a situation like Hurricane Irma, resources to keep our people safe are at a premium – and without the proactive help we received from first responders like the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, the restoration effort would have unfolded differently,” he said. “It’s a side of the emergency response that customers at home, waiting for the power to come back on, probably didn’t see. But our people certainly did, and we’re grateful.”
Major Alan Hill with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department described how the severe weather processes of law enforcement mirror that of TECO crews in many ways. This includes waiting until winds fall below 40 mph for safety before heading out on the roads in an unpredictable, post-storm environment. And like TECO crews, first responders work hard even as they wonder, in some cases, about how their own homes and families are faring.
“TECO is a great corporate business partner, and when we get a call from them, we go – it’s all hands on deck,” Hill said. “We had good communication with TECO, and we know the quicker we can respond, the quicker you can get the power back on.”
Thank you, first responders, for being the energy behind our energy as the lights came back on across Tampa Bay – and our customers again had the power we’re proud to provide.