First Coast Area Crews Helping Panhandle Recover From Hurricane Michael

Oct 11, 2018

Emergency response teams from Nassau County are headed to Florida’s storm-battered Panhandle Thursday to help manage storm recovery and repair communications systems in several counties damaged by Hurricane Michael.

Our Florida Times-Union news partner reports county emergency management offices in some areas had to rely on amateur radio operators relaying information because their own communications systems were offline after the storm, a Nassau County spokeswoman reported.

Communications equipment and technical specialists are being sent to restore those systems while a separate 17-person team led by Nassau Emergency Management Director Billy Estep will be used to cover staffing needs at local emergency management offices. A mix of people with law enforcement, firefighting and emergency management backgrounds are being used for the second team, the Nassau spokeswoman, Martha Oberdorfer, said.

Related: Additional Hurricane Michael Coverage

Nassau officials had previously organized two other six-person teams to send to Holmes and Okaloosa counties in response to requests from a statewide coordinating agency.

Help is being sent to the Panhandle as Northeast Florida cleans up limited damage left from winds that lingered Wednesday night and early Thursday.

Surveys for damage and evidence of tornadoes are planned Thursday in Clay, Bradford and Alachua counties, as well as Charlton and Douglas counties in Georgia, the National Weather Service reported. The weather service canceled alerts for the Jacksonville area early Thursday, although a small craft advisory remained in effect offshore.

City and county beaches that had been closed in Nassau County reopened Thursday, but had red-flag warnings about potentially dangerous currents.

The first parts of an army of electrical linemen and tree surgeons that massed Wednesday at the Jacksonville Equestrian Center for Duke Energy began traveling west before sunrise Thursday to help restore electricity. However, hundreds of workers remained at the center hours later, waiting for instructions.

A longer version of this story that includes additional photos is available at jacksonville.com.