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    A long wait for electricity after Ian: More than 1 million without power in Florida


    October 3, 2022 - Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald

     

      More than 1 million homes and businesses are without power in Florida nearly three days after Hurricane Ian made landfall, and the state’s largest utility said Saturday morning that damage was so severe in some areas that it’s too soon to predict when electrical service can return there.

      “There are still counties and areas where we are still finalizing our damage assessments, where the damage was more extensive because of where the hurricane came on shore,” said Eric Silagy, Florida Power and Light’s chief executive. “It’s Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Highlands, Lee, Manatee and Sarasota counties.”

      He said he expected FPL to have estimates on service restoration for those counties by Saturday evening.

      “We’ve made really good progress in patrolling all these areas. In getting the data in, we’ll have better information,” Silagy said at the press conference in Sarasota, which was also streamed on the company’s Facebook page. “We want you to have the best information possible so you can make decisions on what’s best for your family, based on the estimates on time to restore.”

      FPL estimates it has 700,000 customers in Florida without power after Ian. State data covering all utilities show 1.26 million customers without power from Ian as of Saturday morning. That’s a 35% drop in 24 hours, with Florida reporting 1.93 million customers without power on Friday morning.

      The hardest-hit now: the inland county of Hardee, home to the city of Wauchula, with nearly 90% of roughly 12,000 customers without power, according to a tally by the Florida Public Service Commission.

      In waterfront Charlotte County, where Ian made landfall, nearly 80% of the homes and businesses are without power, about 99,000 in all.

      In Lee County, a more populated area to the south that’s home to Fort Myers, nearly 350,000 customers are without power —representing about 75% of the county.

      Silagy said the utility prioritizes repairs that can restore electricity to the greatest number of people as quickly as possible. Ian left FPL with outages across the state as it devastated the southwest coast before hitting the central part of the state and exiting off the Northeast coast.

      It could take until Sunday evening to restore 95% of the power in Brevard County, Silagy said, an area east of Orlando that’s home to Cape Canaveral. For other areas around Orlando — the counties of Flagler, Seminole and Volusia — the wait is expected to last until Tuesday evening, Silagy said.

      The utility’s website includes a map for tracking power outages, and where customers can enter specific addresses for more information.

      FPL has about 20,000 people working on the electricity fixes, Silagy said, but the company is unable to get to many areas needing repairs as flood waters remain and roads are still blocked from hurricane debris.

      “Right now it’s still difficult to move a lot of equipment,” he said. “I just came across the state, and we couldn’t even come down State Road 70, as an example. Arcadia is still under water. Portions of I-75 closed earlier around the Myakka River.”

      “As soon as the flood waters recede, we’ll be able to get more access into the areas where simply, today, we cannot get access and get trucks in,” he said.

      ©2022 Miami Herald. Visit miamiherald.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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