By JOHN ANDERSON
Over 100 employees from the Allegany County-based KR Utilities are in Florida, riding the storm out and prepared to help residents, businesses, schools and the government in Florida during Hurricane Ian.
The company also sent 40 bucket trucks, 12 diggers and over 125 pieces of equipment. The sent professional journeyman lineman, equipment operators, mechanics and other specialists to Florida.
KR Utilities has a main office and warehouse in Cuba, as they are a utility contractor with offices in Central New York and the Southern Tier is made up of highly-trained IBEW workers.
While they also serve Pennsylvania, Ohio, Massachusetts and surrounding states, the reputation of the company is what brought them to Florida during Hurricane Ian.
KR Utilities trucks have been featured on the national and local news, showing the equipment and the local residents who are in Florida.
Company officials told the Wellsville Sun the employees are staying safe and ready to serve.
The owners are Greg Robinson and Dennis Kelly.
KR Utilities mainly offers construction and maintenance for overhead as well as underground distribution and transmission cable services according to their website. KR Utilities is equipped to handle a number of electrical tasks as their specialty is electrical work of 600V and above.
Several states and the federal government know they can handle storm emergencies. They call it the “KR Difference” as the company has year-round availability, Circuit, Substation and Distribution Line Restoration, Transmission Line Restoration, In-House Hydro Excavation services, a Mobile Command Center and they are FEMA Incident Commander Certified.
The company has posted updates on their Instagram story and page (@krutilities).
While in the Northeast, KR Utilities serves contractors, municipal governments, private corporations and industry, private individuals, universities, solar/wind Farms and agricultural facilities.
Here is the latest on the storm from our news partners at The Center Square:
Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s West Coast Wednesday afternoon as Category 4 storm with wind speeds of 150 mph.
Ian is “knocking on the door of a Category 5 storm,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said earlier Wednesday as the state prepared.
The storm, which landed near Cayo Casto, is projected to move through central Florida before exiting the northeast Florida coast sometime on Thursday.
“Much of southern Florida has already experienced the impact of the storm,” DeSantis said. “There have been several tornado warnings issued during the overnight hours,” which are expected to continue throughout the day.
“A storm of this magnitude will produce catastrophic flooding and life threatening storm surge on the Gulf Coast of Florida,” he said. “The highest risk areas are ranging from Collier County up to Sarasota County,” with the storm making landfall in Charlotte County.
“If you are in any of those counties,” he said, “it is no longer possible to safely evacuate. It’s time to hunker down and prepare for this storm. This is a powerful storm that should be treated like you would treat if a tornado were approaching your home. If you’re out on the roads, get to a safe place as soon as possible. There’s over 200 shelters open in just the southwest Florida region alone.”
Bridge closures have already begun due to high winds and there are more than 40,000 reported power outages in southwest Florida, he said. More than 2 million people have already evacuated.
“Don’t go outside in the eye of the storm,” the governor also warned Floridians. “There is actually a calmness in the center of the storm,” he said that may give people the impression that it’s passed but “that’s not the case. It’s still very dangerous. There’s possibilities of tornadoes. It would also be very difficult to potentially get back into your home.”
He also warned Floridians to avoid downed power lines, standing water, damaged trees, to operate generators outside homes, and to not drive through flooded roads.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Deanne Criswell said the hurricane would be impacting parts of Florida that haven’t seen a major direct impact in nearly 100 years.
She also warned, “There’s also part of Florida that has a lot of new residents that have never experienced this type of threat. My message to them is take this very seriously, listen to your local officials.”
Catastrophic storm surges could push as much as 18 feet to 16 feet of water over a nearly 100-mile stretch of coastline, from Bonita Beach north through Fort Myers and Charlotte Harbor to Englewood, according to the National Hurricane Center. Rainfall near the area of landfall could top 18 inches.
Mandatory Evacuation Orders are in effect in the counties of Charlotte, Citrus, Collier, Hernando, Hillsborough, Lee, Levy, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam and Sarasota.
A Hurricane Warning is in effect for west central Florida including Pinellas, Hillsborough, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk, Lake, Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Okeechobee, Hardee, Highlands, Desoto, Charlotte, Lee, Coastal Collier counties.
A Hurricane Watch has been issued for Glades, Hendry, Inland Collier counties.
Tropical Storm Warnings are in effect for Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Inland Collier, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Pasco, Hernando, Citrus, Sumter, Levy, Dixie, Coastal Taylor, Coastal Jefferson, Coastal Wakulla, Coastal Franklin, Marion, Volusia, Flagler, St. Johns, Duval, Coastal Nassau, Clay, Putnam counties.
Tropical Storm Watches have been issued for Inland Nassau, Baker, Union, Bradford, Alachua, Gilchrist counties.
A Storm Surge Warning is in effect from Suwannee River southward to Flamingo, including Tampa Bay, Dry Tortugas, as well as from the Flagler/Volusia Line to the mouth of the St. Mary’s River. A Surge Warning is also in effect along the St. Johns River.
So far, more than 50 school districts, 24 Florida College System institutions and 11 State Universities are closed.
Airports that suspended operations include Tampa International Airport, St.Pete/Clearwater International Airport, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport, Southwest Florida International Airport, and the Orlando International Airport.
The state is evacuating 15 hospitals in areas of anticipated landfall as well as potentially 100 health care facilities.
More than 5,000 Florida National Guard are activated in addition to 2,000 from Tennessee, Georgia and North Carolina as well as a FEMA emergency team from Texas.
Photo gallery provided: