Crews of Duke Energy linemen, including workers from Columbus, are heading into the aftermath of Hurricane Irma to restore power to storm-battered Floridians.

Sam Mills, Columbus, who has worked for 25 years for Duke, including serving as a lineman for 16 years, is supervising crews from southeast Indiana who have deployed to Florida as the storm winds its way inland.

About 1,400 Midwest line workers, contractors and support personnel, including 630 from Indiana, responded to join power-restoration efforts in Florida, said Chip Orben, Duke government and community relations manager.

Mills, and the eight crews of linemen he is supervising, initially traveled to Georgia and have since been deployed to Jasper, Florida, a city of about 4,500 people east of Interstate 75, about five miles south of the Florida-Georgia state line. The Duke Energy contingent includes damage assessors, line workers, tree crews and other support personnel, Orben said.

In his eighth trip to a storm-damaged area with Duke crews, Mills said the linemen stayed in an old school building Sunday night as Irma passed through with about 80 mph winds that did not phase the school building, but wreaked havoc on nearby trees.

The power went out in the school at 2 a.m. today, Mills said, and Duke crews were in “assessment mode” to determine their strategy for restoring power to the area as soon as possible.

For more on this story, see Tuesday’s Republic.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at or (812) 379-5631.