In recent weeks, our country has seen damage from two hurricanes of record proportions.
Harvey dropped so much water in Texas and Louisiana that the city of Houston sank two centimeters. Irma, an enormous and powerful storm following quickly on Harvey’s heels, has devastated neighborhoods from the Caribbean to Georgia. Each of these storms in very different ways presented monstrous challenges to the electric utilities and oil and gas suppliers that keep our country’s lights on and power flowing.
Today, while many are still hurting, a greater number are beginning to see relief. This is thanks to the combined efforts of more than 60,000 workers from nearly 250 investor-owned electric companies, public power utilities, and electric cooperatives from across the United States. It is also thanks to the hundreds of state, local and federal employees assisting these workers to get the lights on and make fuel available.
Full restoration, especially for some of the hardest-hit areas, is going to take time, but real progress is being made. Power has now been restored to 64% of the affected customers. Florida Power and Light, for example, is restoring power at a pace roughly four times faster than it did after Wilma in 2005. One of the reasons this is possible is because of the unparalleled mutual assistance that electric utilities across the country are providing one another.
Crews have come from all corners of the U.S. – from Washington State and New Mexico and Colorado, from Michigan and Maine and Maryland – to aid in the restoration. In some cases, prepositioned restoration crews were even able to begin restoration efforts between the rain bands of the storm. These crews are working around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as they can.
While the utilities and oil and gas companies have been busy on the ground, government agencies have been equally busy behind the scenes clearing the way for the recovery. The level of coordination and cooperation among federal, state and local governments and power companies has been remarkable.
Secretary Rick Perry and Acting Secretary Elaine Duke have been engaged with industry leaders and governors of the affected states on a daily basis to make sure that all that can be done is being done to aid in the restoration. And members of the DOE emergency response team — an amazingly dedicated group of public servants — have been in the field and manning the phones to support the fastest, and safest, possible restoration.
We will all stay at this until all the lights are back on.