DEFUNIAK SPRINGS — CHELCO staff anticipate a potential for Hurricane Michael to cause widespread power outages, which may take hours or days to restore.

Power restoration will begin once it is safe for crews to do so. Crews will be dispatched during the storm only to respond to emergencies. In preparation, 100 additional sister cooperative and contracted individuals are currently on stand-by to assist CHELCO in restoration. Additional line workers will be brought in if the damage exceeds current predictions.

Once the conditions are safe, crews will assess the damage and restore power to the greatest number of people as possible first. The order of repair is subject to damage and conditions but generally follows this order: transmission lines, substations, main distribution lines, tap lines, then, service lines to individual homes and buildings.

“Because our restoration process cannot prioritize individual needs, it is important that members who depend upon electric medical devices plan now for extended outages,” said CHELCO CEO Steve Rhodes. “We recommend that they register with the Florida Special Needs Registry either online or by contacting their counties’ Emergency Management Center.”

“Our team at CHELCO are dedicated to our members and train for storm response routinely,” Rhodes said. “We’ve also talked to other cooperatives that just weathered Hurricane Florence and are incorporating their best practices in our response preparations.”

CHELCO offices will be closed Wednesday but are expected to open Thursday. Our Santa Rosa Beach location may remain closed subject to hurricane damage and road accessibility. Members can also follow CHELCO on Facebook @myCHELCO or CHELCO.com for office hours, outage information, storm safety and preparation information.

CHELCO is a not-for-profit electric distribution cooperative serving more than 52,000 accounts in Walton, Okaloosa, Holmes and Santa Rosa counties.