Crews from Kelowna, the South Okanagan and the Kootenays left from the Kelowna airport on Saturday to join counterparts from across Canada to help restore power to the Turks and Caicos in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. From left: Jesse, Mike, Conor, Aaron, Kevin, Travis, FortisBC powerline technicians; and Dean, operations supervisor.

Okanagan linemen headed to help with Hurricane Irma

FortisBC employees are among 58 Canadians headed to Turks and Caicos

Four Okanagan employees are among a group from Fortis that have landed in Turks and Caicos to help recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma.

Nicole Bogdanovic, communications advisor at FortisBC, said the seven-man B.C. crew, which also includes two employees from Kelowna and two from the South Okanagan, left Kelowna International Airport on Saturday and are on the islands assessing damage.

Bogdanovic explained that with Fortis’ holdings in the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean, the company has dealt with many hurricane events and was aware that they needed people ready to be put in place to aid in hurricane aftermath.

“The Turks and Caicos is serviced by one of our sister organizations Fortis TCI, which is owned by Fortis Inc.

“They (Fortis Inc) put the call out Wednesday, the day prior Irma actually hitting the island and this group was really quick to volunteer,” she added.

The crew includes six power line technicians and one supervisor.

“What’s great about our crew is they have a lot of experience dealing with B.C.’s back country,” Bogdanovic explained. “And what we experience here with wildfires and restoring service in pretty remote areas when they don’t have access to infrastructure. That’s what they’ll be facing in the Turks and Caicos because the island is without infrastructure.”

This should prove to be invaluable experience as they must clear transportation routes from power line debris with little infrastructure or heavy equipment on the ground to help.

Fortis Inc is sending a total of 58 Canadian employees to Turks and Caicos islands. The assignment is expected to last three weeks.