Hurricane Michael made landfall on October 10th, 2018 near Mexico Beach, Florida. Duke Energy’s 230kV 34-mile PX line from Port St. Joe to Callaway was damaged beyond repair. On November 15th, Irby was awarded the job from Duke with three months to remove and rebuild the line. Our preconstruction meeting was held in Wildwood, FL, on November 19th and work officially began on December 3rd.
Rufus Killen led field operations over seven subcontractors: Aldridge Electric, A&J Steel, HeliService Powerline Solutions and FireHawk Helicopters, ROW Masters, Probst Electric, and Thomasson Company. Gerald and Tammy Westmoreland ran all office operations while still handling their other Irby job assignments. Working six days a week, 12 hours per day, we were able to beat the scheduled completion time with no injuries and no environmental incidents. At the busiest time of the project, we had 220 crew members consisting of wire/tower removal crews, four drilling crews, multiple framing/setting crews spread over four yards, three helicopters (one BlackHawk and 2-MD500s), wire crews, one eagle’s nest, two boats, and well over 10,000 mats. With all the devastation, logistics and housing was an issue, many crew members driving over an hour and a half each way to the line.
We are proud of a few milestones- Day 39: 328 holes drilled and bases set; Day 43: all pole tops framed and set; Day 64: grounds removed and line turned over to Duke. Probst Electric averaged pulling and clipping a mile of wire a day with the help of two helicopters.
Thanks to Duane Bennet, Harry Carbo, Tim Edwards, Rick Lindsey, and Larry Etter for coordination of subcontractor daily activities. Quanta Safety was instrumental in safety oversight and conducting On Board sessions for every crew member before entering the ROW. Thanks also to one crew from 2036 and Irby distribution crew for their help when we first arrived on site.
Please continue to remember those affected by this storm. The residents in Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach were so welcoming and have made great progress in 3 months, but it will be many months, if not years, before this area sees anything close to normal. Our hearts go out to them as they continue to rebuild.