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Members at Hydro One aiding Florida’s recovery

The Society is proud to see workers from Hydro One stepping up to do their part to help relief efforts in Florida after hurricane Irma battered the state’s coastline.

Hydro One sent 172 workers down to affected areas. Among the crews are nine Society-represented Health and Safety staff and supervisors from Forestry and Lines.

Toby Hundt, Assistant Safety and Environmental Coordinator at Hydro One, told The Society that he feels fortunate to be able to help out. “I have never dealt with a disaster of this magnitude,” said Hundt. “But I feel proud to represent the company especially when we speak with customers & inform them we are from Canada.”

Some 4.5 million homes and businesses in Florida are without electricity after the tropical storm made landfall on Sunday. The Hydro One crews arrived Wednesday to begin work to restore power.

Crews took roughly 120 pieces of equipment south, including forestry bucket trucks and other vehicles to move and replace poles.

“The operation of the electrical infrastructure is one of the most important things to start rebuilding to get life back to normal after a disaster,” Hundt said in a phone call from Florida. “Hydro One has the ability to provide support and reconstruction of a damaged electrical system. Achieving this in a timely manner is crucial.

This is not the first time that crews from Ontario’s largest hydro utility have helped out their southern neighbours. Crews have previously been dispatched to various states to assist with major outages as part of reciprocal agreements with US power utilities. Most recently, more than 200 workers assisted with emergency efforts in New Jersey following hurricane Sandy in 2012.

“We are coming from normalcy to help people who may have lost everything,” said Hundt. “I think it is not only great that we get asked from a utility as far as Florida, but that we answer the call and act. The people affected are showing their thanks for the crews who have come to help.”

Society president Scott Travers offered the union’s heartfelt thanks.

“The Society thanks all of the Hydro One workers for their tireless efforts and urges everyone to stay safe,” said Travers. “Know that all of us here in Ontario are proud of what you’re doing to bring hope and light to Floridians."