November 7, 2018
Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) applauds Florida’s business community for recovery efforts made by Florida companies, both large and small, during the aftermath of Hurricane Michael, which devastated several counties across the Panhandle and Big Bend.
“AIF is proud of how quickly Florida’s business community came together in the wake of Hurricane Michael’s devastation,” said AIF President & CEO Tom Feeney. “From first response teams and power restoration, to millions in contributions toward relief efforts, we applaud the amazing efforts from businesses across the state for coming together during this critical time of need.”
Reports are still coming in from some of the hardest hit communities about various companies being on the ground and working with citizens to meet their needs. Some examples include banks such as Bank of America and Suntrust, that helped displaced people access much needed funds from their accounts. Phone companies such as AT&T, Verizon and CenturyLink helped replace lost phones and worked diligently to get Wi-Fi spots operational.
Utility companies such as Gulf Power, Duke Energy, and Florida Power & Light worked right behind the first responders to start the process of repairing and replacing lines and poles. Linemen from these companies and from dozens of other utility companies came in from all over the southeast to provide support and were instrumental in exceeding the expectations to restore power to the communities.
The insurance industry had numerous companies on the ground providing assistance with claims and, in some cases, providing same-day cash to help citizens begin to repair damage.
Below is a sample of some of the efforts that have been made by various businesses in Florida. This isn’t meant to be a complete list as there are dozens of companies that have contributed in different ways throughout this time.
We encourage you to use the links for each company, visit their websites and read more about their outstanding efforts.
More than 125,000 Gulf Power customers lost power due to severe damage from Hurricane Michael. The energy provider deployed more than 7,500 line-workers and support personnel from 16 states and Canada to undertake the massive effort to restore power. In just 13 days after Michael made landfall, Gulf Power restored power to more than 95 percent of its customers who could safely receive power. Along the way, crews replaced more than 6,800 poles, their trucks consumed more than 700,000 gallons of fuel and 8 massive staging sites were erected, feeding teams more than 300,000 meals. To aid in relief and restoration, the Gulf Power Foundation contributed $100,000 to the Red Cross of Northwest Florida for Bay, Washington, Jackson and Holmes Counties, and $100,000 to the United Way of Northwest Florida’s Hurricane Michael Relief and Disaster Fund. Gulf Power crews continue to connect customers as their homes are repaired, and work to return their smart grid back to pre-storm reliability.
Comcast NBCUniversal has committed to provide $700,000 to support relief efforts, including cash and in-kind contributions. As part of this commitment, Comcast NBCUniversal is making a $350,000 cash donation to the Florida Disaster Fund, the State of Florida’s official private fund established to assist communities as they respond to and recover during times of emergency or disaster, including Hurricane Michael. The company is also donating $350,000 in advertising on its cable systems to run public service announcements for the Florida Disaster Fund to help relief organizations get important information out to local communities regarding disaster recovery efforts.
Duke restored power to all customers who were able to receive it, which totaled more than 75,000 customers as of 9 p.m. on Oct. 18. Nearly 3,800 customers in Bay and Gulf counties are unable to receive power by that time due to significant damage to their homes and businesses. The Duke Energy electric system was heavily damaged in these areas as well. In Mexico Beach and St. Joe Beach, Duke Energy Florida is now focused on rebuilding its electrical infrastructure that was damaged in Hurricane Michael's 155-mile per hour winds and record storm surge. The rebuilding work includes installing new transformers, main power lines and all the equipment needed to provide power to their customers when they are ready for service. While much of the work will occur in neighborhoods, additional construction will take place within the rights of ways containing electric transmission equipment that supports the region's power grid. When complete, this work will result in a stronger, more reliable electric system for customers.
Brent Burns, President and CEO of JM Family Enterprises, Inc., announced a $100,000 donation from the company to the American Red Cross to support disaster relief efforts following Hurricane Michael. The company is also matching up to $50,000 of associates’ contributions to four charities: American Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, Team Rubicon and the Florida Disaster Fund.
A $1 million donation to the Florida Disaster Fund has been made by The Walt Disney Company to help “Florida’s Gulf Coast region and other areas impacted by Hurricane Michael.” In addition to the $1 million donation, they will also be matching dollar for dollar donations from Disney employees to “eligible relief and recovery organizations.”
After restoring power to its customers, FPL assisted four energy companies in the Florida Panhandle, Georgia and South Carolina, and its crews are back home now. Manny Miranda, FPL’s senior vice president of power delivery, was asked by Florida Governor Rick Scott to advise and assist with the state’s power restoration efforts and served as a liaison between Florida officials and FEMA.
Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson has sent a team to Port Panama City to assist with underwater damage assessment, debris removal and FEMA paperwork. The three-man Port Tampa Bay team are all certified divers and will be able to assist in assessing damage for insurance and FEMA estimates, debris removal, and FEMA paperwork. There is no timetable for the team's return. The Port Tampa Bay crew has taken two trucks filled with supplies along with a boat to assist with diving and underwater assessments.
To support displaced families throughout the Southeast and disaster recovery efforts following Hurricane Michael, Uber is providing rides, food, and relief to the families and communities affected by the storm. Their teams are working directly with local government officials and the American Red Cross to understand where these services can be most helpful. Current efforts include:
- Providing free rides up to $25 each to and from state-approved evacuation shelters in Florida so people in impacted areas can access transportation when they most need it. See below for state-specific details on rides in Florida (list of shelters here). Terms apply;
- Coordinating with local partners to deliver donations of food to volunteers;
- Providing discounted meals to law enforcement and first-responders working tirelessly to keep communities safe;
As stated, this is just a small sample of all the outpouring of support from corporate Florida in the wake of this disaster. We are proud of all the companies that have contributed and assisted the citizens affected by the storm. Their efforts, along with first responders, community leaders, local churches and support drives have gone a long way in making the lives of these Florida citizens better.
Known as “The Voice of Florida Business” in the Sunshine State, Associated Industries of Florida (AIF) has represented the principles of prosperity and free enterprise before the three branches of state government since 1920. A voluntary association of diversified businesses, AIF was created to foster an economic climate in Florida conducive to the growth, development, and welfare of industry and business and the people of the state.
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