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Northland lineworkers headed to Florida for hurricane repairs

The crews are expected to be there for up to two weeks after Hurricane Ian makes landfall.

Lineworkers in boom trucks repair a downed power line
Garret Cogswell, left, and Joe Buckley, linemen for Minnesota Power, repair a downed power line at 52nd Avenue East and Superior Street in Duluth in 2016.
Bob King / File / Duluth News Tribune
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DULUTH — Northland lineworkers are headed to Florida to help restore power after Hurricane Ian is expected to hit later this week.

A total of 24 lineworkers, supervisors and mechanics from Minnesota Power and Superior Water, Light and Power are leaving the Twin Ports on Wednesday and will head to the Jacksonville area.

Crews are expected to be there for up to two weeks, the company said in a news release Tuesday.

“We’re always willing to lend a hand when we can after other electric companies get hit by a storm of this magnitude," Tim Laeupple, manager of line operations for Minnesota Power, said in the release. "With quiet weather expected here over the next two weeks, we have the resources to help out in Florida while maintaining our ability to respond to outages should they occur.”

Residents across the state emptied store shelves of water and household items, as schools and colleges in the Tampa area and northwest Florida canceled classes through at least Thursday. The approaching storm also forced NASA to roll its giant Artemis 1 moon rocket off its Cape Canaveral lauchpad after postponing the mission for a third time.

Minnesota Power received mutual assistance from other companies in 2016 after violent thunderstorms roared through the Northland with hurricane-force winds, downing trees and leaving thousands without power.

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Crews from Minnesota Power and SWL&P have provided mutual assistance to other areas after natural disasters, including after six hurricanes in the past 15 years, notably to Puerto Rico from late 2017 and early 2018 after hurricanes Irma and Maria.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Hurricane Ian is a Category 3 storm and made landfall in Cuba on Tuesday with 125 mph winds.

The storm could strengthen into a Category 4 storm before reaching the western coast of Florida late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of "staff." Often, the "staff" byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.
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Bygones is researched and written by David Ouse, retired reference librarian from the Duluth Public Library. He can be contacted at djouse49@gmail.com.