» Welling­ton: FPL line worker ‘scared to death’ for fam­ily,

Ger­ald Nixon is help­ing to re­store power af­ter storm.

The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Charles El­more Palm Beach Post Staff Writer cel­more@pb­post.com Twit­ter: @El­morepbp

A storm that has claimed at least nine lives and knocked out power to about 1 mil­lion peo­ple in the Caroli­nas took on spe­cial sig­nif­i­cance for Welling­ton’s Ger­ald Nixon.

The Florida Power & Light Co. line worker, one of 930 work­ers from his util­ity dis­patched to help re­store power in Florence’s wake, anx­iously awaited word fam­ily mem­bers were safe as they rode out the storm in the Wilmington, North Carolina area where he grew up.

“I was scared to death at times, es­pe­cially when that thing was a Cat­e­gory 4 or 5 storm out in the ocean,” Nixon told The Palm Beach Post by tele­phone Satur­day af­ter­noon.

He even­tu­ally learned his par­ents, brother, cousins and other fam­ily mem­bers “were in the dark, but they were OK.”

At the same time, his mother has told him, “the rain has not let up.”

It was hardly the trip home he planned. His crew, stag­ing in Char­lotte on Satur­day, hopes to move to­ward the Wilmington area to­day as con­di­tions per­mit. He hopes to have a chance to see his fam­ily at some point but said they re­al­ize he has a job to do first.

“They un­der­stand this is what I do for a liv­ing,” said Nixon, 49, who has worked for FPL for 11 years. “To be able to come and help them, it makes them feel pretty proud.”

Florence ar­rived as a Cat­e­gory 1 hur­ri­cane near Wilmington early Fri­day, later gear­ing down to a trop­i­cal storm in a grind­ing, rain­soaked march that presents a dan­ger­ous risk of flood­ing through­out the re­gion.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump ap­proved a ma­jor dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion for North Car- olina on Satur­day to make fed­eral re­lief avail­able.

The rain has not let up where Ger­ald Nixon’s par­ents, Joseph and Ruth, live near Wilmington. They fear if it keeps up, wa­ter will en­ter the garage and lower-ly­ing por­tions of the house, Ger­ald said.

Ris­ing wa­ters, de­bris and downed trees also present dan­gers for work crews try­ing to turn the power back on.

“Even driv­ing in th­ese trucks, safety is first,” Nixon said. “We need to make sure the route is clear that we’re go­ing to take.”

While he stays in touch with his fam­ily as best he can, Nixon said he must fo­cus first on the task he and his FPL col­leagues con­front.

“I hope to get to see them, but I un­der­stand there’s a lot of other peo­ple af­fected by this storm,” Nixon said.

FPL

FPL lines­man Ger­ald Nixon of Welling­ton said he has learned that his fam­ily mem­bers in the Wilmington, North Carolina, area are OK.

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