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DID NEW ENERGY CHIEF BRING FLORIDA’S WEATHER?

SHARE DID NEW ENERGY CHIEF BRING FLORIDA’S WEATHER?

When Harry M. Schindehette left Florida for a job directing the Provo City Energy Department, he thought he had seen the last of 90-mph winds.

While eating lunch Tuesday during his first day as the city's new energy director, however, Schindehette looked out the window and saw a familiar sight."What I saw was a small hurricane," he said. "I've only seen winds like that twice and it was during two hurricanes in Florida."

Schindehette came to Provo after working for more than a decade as a utilities director for two major Florida power companies. During that tenure, he was responsible for restoring power to thousands of homes following two major hurricanes.

"From what I've been told this was a pretty major storm for this area, something that has never happened before," he said. "You can normally tell by the number of trees that are down as to how serious the storm was, and I haven't seen this many trees on the ground since Hurricane David."

His experience in the two Florida hurricanes, however, has not really been needed in dealing with the most severe storm in Provo history, Schindehette said. Power officials nationwide use the same philosophy in dealing with major power outages. Power is first restored to the main feeder lines and then the smaller lines. First on Schindehette's priority list Tuesday was restoring power to the hospital, then the wastewater treatment plant and then Provo High School in case the building was needed for a shelter.

"You need to make sure your essential public safety services are up and running first," he said.

For the most part, Schindehette said he spent his first day on the job allowing city power workers to do their job.

"They know what they're doing, and I'm just letting them do a great job," he said.

After an around-the-clock workday with more than 90 employees, however, Schindehette said he is now familiar with his workers and they know their boss.

"If nothing else, this has allowed me to get to know everybody working here. You really get to know people when you work with them this closely on something this big," he said.