Again this weekend, we have all watched as Hurricane Irma deluged Florida and the Caribbean, with record high winds and storm surges that flooded out streets and homes, leaving millions without power. At PSMJ, our thoughts are with our clients, customers, and everyone impacted by Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean.
As the power grid was pushed to its limits, the storm made evident the strengths and weaknesses of existing infrastructure. UtilityDive, for instance, reports that Hurricane Irma knocked out power to 5.9 million electric customers in Florida, including most of Florida Power & Light (FPL) customers in the southernmost counties of the state. However, according to the report, the utility claims that recent grid hardening investments have paid off.
"Despite Irma's exceedingly high winds, tornadic activity, storm surge and severe flooding, FPL has restored power to hundreds of thousands of customers, due largely to automation along its energy grid," President and CEO Eric Silagy said in a Sunday statement. "As of this afternoon, we have restored more than 350,000 outages in the midst of Hurricane Irma, primarily as a result of the $3 billion invested over the past decade to make our electric system stronger and smarter."
Meanwhile, according to the New York Times, Puerto Rico was spared the 185-mile-an-hour gusts that had flattened its smaller island neighbors, but almost 70 percent of households were plunged into darkness. The storm knocked out Puerto Rico’s fragile power grid, exposing the island’s decrepit infrastructure and raising questions about its future viability amid a worsening economic crisis.
In the weeks, months, and years that lie ahead, the recovery effort from yet another weather event will surely be like no other. It is in times like these that the architecture and engineering industry makes us all proud by rising to the challenge, and providing valuable rebuilding support, resources, and expertise.
When Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast, our team at PSMJ was honored to play a small role in the recovery with the Gulf Coast Rebuilding Fund. So many design firm leaders from around the country and around the world pledged their support and facilitated recovery for impacted residents of Bay St. Louis, Missouri.
If those efforts serve as an example, the dedicated and driven professionals of the A/E industry come ready to lend a hand when the impacted region moves into recovery mode.
Frank Stasiowski, FAIA
Founder and CEO