Westar crews headed to Florida to help

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Kansas crews are headed to Florida, while others are stuck in Hurricane Irma’s path.

A Westar Energy team just returned from helping in Texas, after Hurricane Harvey, but another team deployed Thursday to get ready for Irma.

“We don’t really know what we’re getting into, so we’re trying to get there ahead of the storm,” said Westar Energy supervisor John Wistuba.

Westar energy sent 8 crews to Florida on Thursday. That’s roughly 40 employees who will weather the outer edges of Hurricane Irma, before going in to help.

“Kinda wait to ride the storm out, and from there we’ll get dispatched once we know what work we have ahead of us. So right now we’re trying to plan for anything,” Wistuba explained.

“Unfortunately it’s likely it’s going to be a lot of rebuilding. A lot a work ahead of them,” said Westar spokesperson Gina Pinzig.

Several of those headed down include linemen. But they are also sending more specialized employees to help coordinate their response.

“We take managers. We also have some fleet mechanics that go along. Safety personnel, of course to make sure that our guys, no matter how hard they’re working, how tired they get, they’re paying attention to the important safety protocols so they come back home to us,” she said.

But while Westar heads in, members of the Kansas National Guards, 35th Military Police Company are stationed at Guantanamo bay, in Cuba. Their commander Nicky Inskeep posted on Facebook, "we have solid plans and we will all be sheltered for the duration of the storm. The safety and well-being of your soldier is my number one priority."

She says the hurricane may affect their communications.

The Kansas National Guard troops have been in Cuba since March, on a 9 month mission.