By Julie McCay Turner
Three men with strong Bedford connections are in Florida this week, helping to restore electricity to the millions of households struck dark by Hurricane Irma. Rich Fedele of Wakefield’s Municipal Gas & Light Department, Jimmy Foster of IBEW Local 104, and Jason Jacoby of Concord Power and Light joined a convoy from Massachusetts headed south on Sunday, September 10.
Caroline Fedele stood on the Minuteman Bikeway Path bridge over Rte 95/128 to watch the trucks depart. Click this link to watch her video, and watch for her husband Rich Fedele waving from one of the last vehicles.
The drive to Florida wasn’t easy: Almost 24 hours and more than 1,300 miles in a bucket truck; rest stops along the highway without food or fuel; and heavy traffic slowed by thousands of evacuees trying to get home. According to Caroline Fedele, 3,000 linemen were turned back in the Carolinas because of a lack of fuel before supplies were finally delivered to the area.
Work days are long, with 16 hours on the job and 8 hours off, but progress has been made. Florida Power and Light’s web site reports crews are restoring power safely and as quickly as possible. It estimates that customers along Florida’s east coast should have their electricity restored by the end of the day on Sunday, September 17, and that for customers along the west coast service would be restored by the end of day on Thursday, September 22 unless a particular area was impacted by tornadoes, severe flooding, or other pockets of severe damage.
Fedele’s crew has been in the New Smyrna area, but he expects to be re-deployed to Bartow, Florida before heading back to Bedford.
At work in Florida – Courtesy images (c) 2017 all rights reserved – Double click twice to see each at full size
The kids had to stay up north – Courtesy images (c) 2017 all rights reserved – Double click twice to see each at full size
Three days before Irma made landfall, Florida Power and Light reached out to power companies across the country. In addition to the three crews with Bedford men, mutual aid units from Groveland, Marblehead, Ipswich, Rowley, Georgetown, Middleton, Danvers, and Merrimack mobilized to help in Florida.