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Duke Energy sends 200 to Florida for storm aid; KYTC’s Gray issues order to speed emergency crews

With tropical storm Nicole expected to affect Florida and other southeastern states later this week, Kentucky Transportation Secretary Jim Gray has issued an official order to help speed emergency crews and supplies to states in its path.

Duke Energy sent approximately 200 employees and contractors to Florida on Tuesday to help with restoration efforts expected after Subtropical Storm Nicole arrives. This includes line personnel, damage assessors, vegetation crews, and supervisors.

Crews departed from Duke Energy’s Erlanger District office about 8 a.m. Once they reach Florida, they will be dispatched to areas once the storm passes.

Duke Energy crews headed to Florida will also be dispatched from Indiana, Ohio, and North and South Carolina.

Gray’s order, issued on Tuesday, means drivers of commercial vehicles engaged in restoring power or clearing debris in the affected areas are temporarily exempted from limits on hours of driving and having to stop at weigh stations. Those vehicles are also exempted from permit fees for overweight/over-dimensional loads, and International Registration Plan requirements are waived for vehicles providing relief services.

“Team Kentucky is proud to lend a hand to help critical services reach Florida as soon as possible as residents brace for another threatening weather event,” Gray said in issuing the order.

Secretary Gray’s official order will remain in effect through 12:01 a.m. EDT on Dec. 7, 2022. To ensure the safety of the traveling public, contracted drivers must comply with safety requirements and have a copy of the order in their vehicles.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday declared a state of emergency for 34 counties due to Nicole, saying he issued it out of an abundance of caution so communities can prepare, and families and businesses can create a plan and gather necessary resources if Nicole gains in strength.

The National Hurricane Center has issued hurricane and tropical storm warnings for most of Florida’s East Coast, and a tropical storm watch for much of the west coast of Florida, as Nicole moves west through the Atlantic.

At mid-day Tuesday, maximum sustained winds were near 50 mph with higher gusts. Forecasters say strengthening is expected during the next 36 to 48 hours, and Nicole is expected to be near or at hurricane strength (74 mph) by Wednesday and Wednesday night while it is moving near the northwestern Bahamas and approaching the east coast of Florida.

Nicole’s center is then expected to move across central and northern Florida into southern Georgia Thursday and Thursday night, then continue northeast, while weakening, just inland of the Atlantic Coast.

Kentucky Today and Staff report

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