» Wellington: FPL line worker ‘scared to death’ for family,
Gerald Nixon is helping to restore power after storm.
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 linesman Gerald Nixon of Wellington said he has learned that his family members in the Wilmington, North Carolina, area are OK.