City Utility crews headed to Florida ahead of Hurricane Irma

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SPRINGFIELD- Springfield City Utility crews are packing up and heading to Florida. They'll join other utilities ahead of Hurricane Irma. They'll stage in
the Jacksonville area.

A crew of fifteen from City Utilities are traveling to Jacksonville, Florida as part of a nationwide mutual aid agreement. Spencer Shepherd is the supervisor with the crew and hopes it's not a total devastation, but plan on restoring power to as many people as possible.

"Our guys do a very specialized job and so this is our opportunity to give back to other folks that are in need," said Spencer Shepherd. "They'd do the same for us. For instance, in the 07 ice storm we had line crews and tree trimming crews that came from all over the nation to help us out."

City Utilities was directly contacted by Jacksonville Electric or JEA to help provide restoration efforts in the wake of hurricane Irma.

"Basically they'll be doing their daily operations like they do here. They'll be restringing lines, putting in poles, conductors, transformers," said Joel Alexander, City Utilities. "Really whatever the utility needs down there that they'd normally be doing here."

CU deployed four bucket trucks, along with twelve linemen, a safety officer, and a mechanic which have volunteered to help.

"We've been on stand by to go to Houston since before Houston was impacted by hurricane Harvey. So, we kind of had a crew that was ready. We looked to see if those folks were still able to go and travel to this event with hurricane Irma. It looks like this one is going to be a longer stay of an event,"Alexander explained.

The volunteer crew loaded up their trailers with as much water, food, supplies, and equipment as possible, but are counting on JEA for lodging. They're planning to make a stop in Tennessee and Georgia before arriving in Jacksonville Friday evening.

"It's not uncommon for us to be staged in an area that is safe and then when the storm blows through and everything's deemed safe we'll go to work from there. We'll get there ahead of time that way our response is fast," Shepherd adds.

President Donald Trump says his administration is closely watching Hurricane Irma. Trump posts on Twitter that his "team, which has done, and is doing, such a good job in Texas, is already in Florida."

Key West International Airport is preparing to close as Hurricane Irma approaches the island chain. Officials said in a news release that the airport will close Wednesday night due to the Transportation Security Administration's security checkpoint ceasing the screening of passengers.