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Local electrical contractor sends crews to help with the massive power restoration efforts in Florida

O'Connell Electric building
O'Connell Electric
O'Connell Electric is based in Victor, NY.

A locally-based electrical contractor is part of the effort to get the lights back on in the hurricane-ravaged parts of Florida.

That company, Victor-based O’Connell Electric Company, is one of the largest businesses of that type in the country, with about 1,100 employees serving northeastern and mid-Atlantic states.

But when there’s an emergency, like the one caused by Hurricane Ian, O’Connell, as part of a mutual aid network of utilities and contractors, often goes to help out with power restoration.

“Last year we were in Louisiana for a storm on Entergy property,” said Dave Emmi, a vice president with O’Connell Electric. ”And that was significant as well. But it’s pretty typical that a hurricane brings you down to the southeast. But I would say it’s extraordinary, with the amount of damage that happened on this one. I think we’re going to be there for a while.”

Emmi said that it’s likely their crews will be in Florida for at least a month.

O’Connell sent around 300 personnel recently to help the utility companies in Florida, and deal with the restoration needed after that massive storm which left more than 2.5 million people without power.

Emmi said that his crews are working some very long days.

“They work about 16 hours a day and then of course they have to get back to their hotels or to the trailers that they stay in and have dinner so it’s really long hours for them, and that’s one of the most important things that we can manage,” said Emmi.

Emmi said that O’Connell also sends out a safety team to monitor their employees to make sure they are taking care of themselves so that they can work safely.

Emmi added that even though the days are long in challenging circumstances, O’Connell’s workers get satisfaction about what they are able to do to help get people and businesses back on line in Florida.

“We have a very clear obligation to our customers, the electric utilities, and their ratepayers to come help when needed. And I would say that it is very fulfilling to be a first responder, in a sense, where you come and you safely put the lights back on for people,” Emmi said.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.