By Team

MIAMI (CBSMiami) – For most people preparing for a hurricane means throwing some food and batteries in a box hoping they never have to use them.

For Florida Power & Light, which provides electricity to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses across the state, it’s a completely different story.

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On Friday the company wrapped up its annual Storm Dry Run, a weeklong session of hurricane restoration drills that involved more than 3,000 employees responding to a hypothetical hurricane amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

FPL said the drill allowed them to refine the operational efficiencies it achieved in 2020 in the early days of the pandemic.

“Not only was last year a historic hurricane season with 30 named storms, but the challenges presented by the pandemic necessitated that we re-evaluate our restoration processes and procedures,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL in a statement. “Our annual hurricane drill serves as our commitment to push ourselves and improve upon our procedures when responding to a natural disaster – this is more important than ever during the pandemic.”

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While FPL’s restoration strategy for getting the lights back on safely and as quickly as possible after a hurricane has not changed, its approach has.

FPL requires its entire restoration workforce to undergo daily health screenings before going to work to restore power after a hurricane.

The company has also has altered the layout of staging sites to account for social distancing and limited interaction. In previous years, the sites sometimes resembled small cities with upwards of 2,500 responders per site. Now FPL has greatly expanded its use of smaller, micro-staging sites.

“We have found that multiple, smaller sites closer to impacted areas have made us even more nimble and efficient,” said Manny Miranda, FPL’s senior vice president of power delivery. “Microsites are also more valuable during the pandemic era when physical spacing is a must.”

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In addition to refining storm restoration processes necessary during COVID-19, the company also prepares for hurricanes by continuously improving the energy grid to make it stronger and more storm-resilient. Team