Much of Florida will be waking up to a second day in the dark Tuesday after Hurricane Irma’s devastating slash through the state.
More than 13 million Floridians — 62 percent of the state — remained without power as of late Monday, state officials said. In Tampa Bay, some of the county numbers were even more jarring: 78 percent of Pinellas households were affected; 71 percent of Pasco; 62 percent of Hernando; 61 percent of Polk and 42 percent of Hillsborough.
Add it up and 1.15 million bay area households, or 61 percent, are grappling without power — outages that may stretch on more than a week for some even though thousands of technicians are pouring in from around the country to help.
“We’re seeing guys fly in from California, and coming from Nebraska, Missouri, Texas, that were all pre-deployed before the storm,” said Mike Hyland, senior vice president of engineering with the American Public Power Association, a Washington D.C.-based utility trade group. Hyland anticipates a network of more than 50,000 workers are on their way to Florida, if they’re not there already. “Utility companies across the country have raised their hands to help both with Harvey and Irma,” he said.
While outages are typically reported in terms of a number of customers, a graphic displayed at the state Emergency Operations Center in Tallahassee at 6:30 p.m. tallied the individual count of 13 million to underscore the scope of the problem, with the worst outages centered in southwest Florida.
The most severe damage in Tampa Electric’s coverage area happened in Polk County, spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said, where 207,316 people were left without power.
About 1.2 million Duke Energy Florida customers lost power, with Pinellas County hit hardest.
As of 3 p.m., 420,000 Duke customers were still waiting to turn the lights back on.
Harry Sideris, president of Duke Energy Florida, said 9,000 extra utility workers have been dispatched to the company’s service area of 35 counties. Of those, 3,000 are dedicated to Pinellas County.
“We have an army of people coming here,” Sideris promised.
Still, Sideris cautioned during a Monday afternoon briefing, thousands of Pinellas County residents are facing “maybe a week or a little longer” without power.
Florida Power & Light, which provides electricity to metro areas in South Florida and elsewhere in the state, reported 3.6 million customers without power.
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Source: Tampa Bay