Mississippi Power lends helping hand in hurricane relief efforts

MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Close to one hundred Mississippi Power employees from the coast, Pine Belt and Meridian areas are traveling to the Carolinas to assist in restoration efforts.

Crews will stage Thursday night in Conyers, Georgia, and await the arrival of Hurricane Florence.

"They're going to stage tonight in Georgia. And they'll be ready after the storm makes its landfall and makes its way through the Carolinas. They'll be that much closer to the affected region and they'll be able to travel north and begin to assess damage and getting the power back on for those customers,” said Mississippi Power spokesperson Jeff Shepard.

Shepard says members of the response team includes linemen, engineers, safety and additional support personnel. This relief mission is made possible thanks to a special program developed in the Southeast region.

"There's a program called a Mutual Assistance Program. And Mississippi Power takes part of that," said Shepard.

If an area is affected by a storm, they can request resources such as manpower or equipment. And Mississippi is one of dozens answering the call to help.

"The utilities in the Carolinas have put the call out that they're going to need help. And so, since the storm is not expected to affect Mississippi Power service territory, we can send some resources, some crews, and some equipment to the Carolinas to help with that restoration and also continue to meet our customers' needs here back home," said Shepard.

The response team discussed contingency plans before heading to the east coast. Team leaders say the goal is to help restore services to the many potential people impacted, but remembering safety as the number one priority.

“It’s going to be a good trip. We got a good team put together. We’re going to work safe. We’re going to come back home the same way we left and we’re going to help a lot of people. We just have to do it safely,” said line crew supervisor Charlie Watson.

And Mississippi Power isn’t the only power company assisting in relief efforts. Southern Pine Electric will head to North Carolina on Saturday. The 27-member crew will carry equipment such as trucks, trailers and ATV’s to the storm stricken areas.