Storm Cleanup & Recovery: Don’t make a difficult situation worse. Call 811.


Contacting Sunshine 811 before digging for landscaping, fencing and other projects can prevent damage to underground utility lines and keep communities safe

DeBary, Fla. (Sept. 27, 2017) – Hurricane Irma’s wide-reaching effects on Floridians continue to be felt more than two weeks after landfall. As millions of state residents recover from the storm and clean up continues, Sunshine 811, the state’s free “call before you dig” service, reminds all residents to always make a free call to 811 or online request at at least two full business days before digging or disturbing the ground in any way, including to uproot trees or grind tree stumps.

Every nine minutes an underground utility line is damaged because someone decided to dig without first calling 811. Striking a single utility line during hurricane clean up or any other time can lead to personal injury, penalties, repair costs, and expensive and inconvenient outages.

Trees and fences are often placed near underground utilities, which makes storm restoration connected to replacing these items more at-risk for the professionals and homeowners doing this important work.

Anyone who calls 811 or makes an online request is connected to Sunshine 811. A Sunshine 811 representative will collect information about the proposed digging project and communicate it to local member utility companies.

Professional locators will then visit the dig site to mark the approximate location of underground utility lines with spray paint, flags or both. Once a site has been accurately marked, it is safe to begin digging around the marked areas.

“In the aftermath of such an unprecedented statewide natural disaster with widespread utility outages, we must remember that safety is a shared responsibility. Calling 811 helps protect the people who dig and their neighbors from injury and utility outages,” said Mark Sweet, Executive Director of Sunshine 811. “It’s a simple phone call or online request to make sure a difficult situation isn’t made worse.” 

Keep the following tips in mind:

  • Always contact Sunshine 811 at 811 or process an online request at at least two full business days before digging, regardless of the depth or familiarity with the property.
  • Before you dig, confirm that utility-owned lines are marked or whether the utility has provided additional instructions to you by using Sunshine 811’s Positive Response System.
  • Be aware that utilities do not locate privately-owned lines on private property such as lines from a meter to your house or lines from your house to an outbuilding, pool or other separate structure. Take necessary precautions to avoid damaging these lines when you dig.
  • Learn what the various colors of paint and flags represent at
  • Consider moving the location of your project if it is near utility line markings.
  • If a contractor has been hired, confirm that a call to Sunshine 811 at 811 has been made. Don’t allow work to begin if the lines aren’t marked.