Twin Ports Utility Crews Head to Florida

As Hurricane Irma Inches Closer to Florida, Minnesota Power and Superior Water Light and Power Crews Head South to Help

DULUTH, Minn. – Hurricane Irma is slowly making way toward mainland Florida. Thursday evening, the storm impacted Puerto Rico.

Forecasters are still uncertain which route the storm will take, but it’s not stopping local power workers from heading south to help.

“It’s going to be pretty much mass devastation,” said Minnesota Power Lineman Mike Linn.

The natural disaster is continuing to make way through the Atlantic.

“There’s going to be trees down everywhere, homes wrecked, vehicles wrecked,” said Linn.

Utility crews left from the Minnesota Power Service Center in Duluth early Thursday morning.

“We quickly assembled a crew Wednesday night of about 31 people,” said Tim Laeupple, Manager of Line
Operations. “This is the first time that we’ve responded with a crew that is not just lineman.”

A total of 24 lineworkers and seven support staff are now en route to aid in relief.

“We’ll be able to provide logistical support, safety support, security, the sort of things that other utilities would typically provide to us,” said Laeupple.

Helping hands coming together. Workers from Minnesota Power joining forces with crews from Superior Water Light and Power.

“They’re excited to be able to go down and help the people of Florida,” said Laeupple.

Linn hasn’t had a chance to think about what his next 14 days will be like. When he arrives, he’ll take a second to strategize.

“Just think. Just take a step back, look around and kind of clear your head. Come up with a plan,” said Linn.

Linn is, however, missed by members of his family.

“My daughter started bawling and pretty much told me I can’t leave. This morning I got a phone call on the way to work, my son was now crying,” said Linn.

Some families, working to stick together as others share support.

For Area Operations Lead Pete Dobson, it’s a different story.

“She’s fine with it, she’s going to SAM’s Club, I’m thinking she’s glad I was leaving,” said Dobson.

It’s Dobson’s first time to Florida during a hurricane, but he knows it could also be his last.

“I probably won’t be able to do this too many more times, there’s a lot of gray whiskers here,” said Dobson.

Gray whiskers, aiding as flood waters are expected to rise.

“I want my chance to go down there and help people,” said Dobson.

The crews will arrive in Florida Saturday, and station in Lake City Florida for the next two weeks.

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