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Hurricane Hermine is expected to gain strength as it nears the Gulf coast south of Tallahassee this evening. According to the latest forecast by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), the center of the storm will pass over the Florida Panhandle sometime this evening. On this projected path, Clay Electric Cooperative’s service area will experience gusty winds, periods of heavy rainfall, and lightning, which could cause power outages.
Clay Electric urges its members to monitor the progress of this storm as it moves northeastward from the Gulf of Mexico toward Northeast Florida. Members should review their storm preparations and supplies. Those members who depend on electric-powered equipment to maintain health should have an alternate source of power available or consider relocating to an area where power has not been interrupted by the storm. Members located in flood-prone areas should have an evacuation plan in mind, since the NHC estimates Hurricane Hermine could dump 4 to 6 inches of rain across North Florida.
Clay Electric personnel are monitoring the storm's projected path and the possibility the storm could grow in strength as it nears the coast. The co-op has an emergency operations plan which ensures that supplies and personnel are in place and that damage assessments and restoration efforts will get underway as soon as possible. If damage is widespread, Clay Electric can call on contract crews and cooperatives from areas not affected by the storm to help restore service.
"Hurricane Hermine serves as a reminder that we're in the busiest part of the hurricane season. We encourage our members to review their preparedness plans, and monitor the progress of this storm," said Wayne Mattox, manager of the co-op's Communications Division. "It’s very likely our service area will experience periods of severe weather, gusty winds and periods of heavy rain. Some outages are likely. We have personnel on standby around the clock to respond to outages that might occur, but our crews won’t begin restoration efforts until it’s safe to go outside."
To report an outage, members are encouraged to go to Clay Electric’s website. Members can report an outage by calling 888-434-9844, but this line may be busy due to the volume of calls expected. A Power Outage map is also available on the cooperative’s website which shows the number of outages by county and district.
Storm preparedness tips are also available online.