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JEA now has 4 licensed drone pilots

by: Jenna Bourne, Action News Jax Updated:

For tens of thousands of customers in Jacksonville, JEA over-promised and under-delivered during Hurricane Matthew.

“Last year was last year. This storm could be completely different,” JEA spokesperson Gerri Boyce said.

In the wake of Hurricane Matthew, tens of thousands of JEA customers were still in the dark days after JEA’s self-proclaimed deadline for full power restoration came and went.

This time around, JEA is doing a few things differently, including adding drones to its toolbox.

“We have, now, four of our employees who are licensed drone operators, so that we can assess the damage after the storm, to see where it is most critical,” Boyce said.

Boyce said JEA has also been actively trimming trees that could threaten powerlines all over Jacksonville.

After Hurricane Matthew, JEA brought in help from out-of-state utilities, quadrupling its number of crews.

Boyce said right now JEA is contacting those crews to be on standby.

After Hurricane Matthew caused 67 sewer overflows in four days, JEA leadership said they needed to add more back-up generators to sewage pump stations.

“As soon as the storm was over, we started a resiliency plan for our sewer system,” Boyce said.

Boyce said JEA had 250 generators for its 1,400-plus pump stations during Hurricane Matthew.

Now JEA has 300 fixed generators, 80 mobile generators and 100 more generators on standby that the agency can rent.