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Local Utility Crews Headed To Florida To Help With Irma Outages

IRVINGTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Local utility crews are headed to Florida Sunday, where more than a million people are without power as Hurricane Irma's winds and rain lash the state.

Millions were left without power statewide in Florida as Irma pounded the state Sunday.

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In New Jersey, 154 PSE&G crews rolled Sunday morning for a three to four week deployment in Florida, CBS2's Magdalena Doris reported.

"We've responded to hurricanes, tornadoes, thunderstorms, microbursts," said Al De Alessandro of PSE&G. "This is a normal thing for us. This is what we do."

The utility said they were headed to Lake City, Florida and should arrive there by late Monday.

"We'll most likely be putting wires back up, perhaps helping to install new utility poles if those are taken down by the high winds," PSE&G spokesperson Karen Johnson told 1010 WINS. "We'll also be putting up new transformers --essentially, doing whatever it takes to restore power."

Johnson said the crews all volunteer for the assignment, 1010 WINS' Samantha Liebman reported. She said thousands of crews from around the country, including Florida, came up to help when the Tri-State area was hit by Superstorm Sandy.

"And now we are in a position to help our neighbors in the south do the same," she said.

Eleven men and four PSE&G trucks leaving from Irvington were joined by 143 other linemen from New Jersey.

There are about 16,000 men and women already in Florida, according to Florida Power & Light, from 30 different states.

The PSE&G crews will be joined by 60 crews from Con Edison and Orange & Rockland Utilities in New York.

On the New Jersey Turnpike Sunday, CBS2 caught up with some of the 60 Con Edison crewmen from Rockland and Orange counties – without a clue on when they would be back home.

"I'm here for as long as they need me to be," said Massimo Mineo of Con Edison. "I have a wife and a newborn and a 4-year-old to come help out."

"When such a disaster hits, no one utility has all the resources available to put the system back together," Con Ed's incident commander Collin Gray told WCBS 880's Kelly Waldron.

He said they'll stay as long as they're needed.

"We're prepared for the long haul," he said. "If we're there for more than a few weeks, we're have plans to rotate new folks in."

Already in Florida Sunday, hundreds of trucks were lined up at the Daytona International Speedway to deploy.

"More than 16,000 men and women from 30 different states are coming to help Floridians in our time of need, just as we've done for them," said Florida Power & Light spokesman Chris McGrath.

It was just five years ago when the Tri-State Area was in need.

"We're going to help these people get their lives back like they helped us after Sandy," said Johnny Price of Con Edison. "Getting power back is like the first step when you start rebuilding".

Power officials in Florida said customers may experience more than one outage throughout the next few days if the electric system is badly damaged and needs to be repaired.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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