The chief executive officer of JEA, which faces scrutiny over its response to power outages and sewage spills, was out of the state for four days spanning the run up to, height of and immediate aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
The city-owned utility confirmed, in response to Times-Union questions about Paul McElroy’s location, that he flew out Thursday morning to attend his daughter’s wedding in Arkansas, which was Sunday. He returned Monday evening. Matthew pounded Northeast Florida on Friday, leaving more than 240,000 JEA customers without power. Forecasters and local officials predicted Matthew could have been a catastrophic “100-year storm.”
“With the exception of the two calls that occurred during the wedding, Paul was on every status update,” according to a prepared statement from JEA. “During this time, he was also in contact with senior staff, Chairman Tom Petway, the Mayor and his team, as well as with Governor Scott.
“Within our command team, JEA has multiple qualified people who can serve as incident commander. JEA’s EOC (Emergency Operations Center) has been in full activation since noon Thursday, Oct. 6. We were monitoring the storm and having updates previous to the activation of the EOC.”