Ameren Illinois is among the utilities around the country sending linemen and tree cutters to Florida to hasten the re-powering of a state that’s lost electricity for six million customers.
Nearly 200 employees and contractors from Illinois are heading to Florida, said Brian Bretsch, a spokesperson for Ameren Illinois. Some are from Belleville, East St. Louis and Alton, which are in one of Ameren Illinois’ six divisions.
“We have almost 1,000 linemen in general, not even including contractors,” he said. “We wanted to make sure we didn’t overtax one service area,” he said.
Ameren’s employees and contractors expect to be at a staging area for Florida Power and Light in Lake City, Florida by Tuesday.
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The nearly 200 employees met in Marion, Illinois over the weekend and left first for South Carolina at 5:30 a.m. Monday. They’ll stay Monday night in South Carolina – “one of the only places we could get hotel rooms for our Illinois guys; everywhere else is booked solid,” Bretsch said.
“It’s grueling work and miserable conditions,” he said, adding that Ameren sent them with extra food and water and encouraged employees to take cash. They expect to be back within two weeks, but may stay on longer.