Since the hurricane, Tyner Electric has dedicated workdays to repairing storm damage on a priority and severity basis. A damaged riser — the electrical component extending from a home’s panel box to the roof and power connection — and meter are at the top of the list.
“A lot of risers were bent over or pulled out of the meter,” said Devin Tyner, vice president of the Punta Gorda company. “Until the riser is repaired, the power company won’t turn the power on.”
As Hurricane Ian roared through Southwest Florida, nearly 573,000 FPL and LCEC customers in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties were plunged into darkness as transformers cracked and popped eerily throughout the late morning and afternoon, winds ripped through power lines and grids failed. 13,683 LCEC customers in Lee County, from Sanibel to North Fort Myers still were without power on Oct. 20.
As the lights gradually flickered back on and evacuated residents returned to flooded homes, many faced the serious damage created by the deadly mix of water and electricity — the harsh reality of replacing appliances, outlets, wiring and complete electric systems submerged under feet of floodwater or exposed to rain seeping in from holes in roofs and walls.
Both power companies outline steps customers should take if their home has suffered water intrusion, highlighting the urgency of hiring a professional electrician to assess potential safety concerns and fire hazards.
Only licensed electricians can repair or replace a home’s electric system, which also must pass a code inspection before power can be restored.
Electricity to homes and buildings with structural or water damage should be turned off at the breaker panel. FPL recommends resetting circuit breakers using a dry wooden tool while wearing rubber-soled shoes and standing on a non-conductive surface.
While LCEC repairs damage to electric grid facilities and electric meters, property owners are responsible for repairs to meter boxes, including pipes and wires entering and leaving the box and home.
Mr. Tyner said residents still using a generator need to turn off the electric panel’s main breaker to avoid injuring line crews. ¦
In the KNOW
1. Know what you need to repair.
Homeowners own and are responsible for electrical equipment attached to the house (service stack, attachment hardware, riser and meter box) and the pole with an attached meter box for mobile or manufactured homes.
The utility is responsible for the wire or service line to the house and the electric meter.
If the homeowner’s equipment is damaged, repairs will be needed before the utility can connect service.
2. Seek a licensed electrician.
Do not hire an unlicensed electrician. It could create safety hazards and possibly delay your power from being connected.
3. Do not attempt to fix the damage yourself.
It could create safety hazards and possibly delay your power from being connected.
4. Make sure repairs pass any required inspections.
Check with your local government for inspection requirements.