Hurricane Irma has left millions of Florida residents without power, and power companies are working hard to restore power as fast as possible.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, an estimated 4.4 million Florida Power and Light customers statewide were left without electricity, challenging FPL and other power companies to try to restore power as quickly as possible in all corners of Florida.
“This has been one of the most unique storms in our company’s history, and this will likely be one of the most challenging restorations that our country has ever seen," said Larry Volenec of FPL at the last scheduled news conference by the Volusia County Emergency Management on Tuesday, Sept. 12.
More than 20,000 FPL workers and 7,000 Duke Energy workers have responded to the Central Florida area in order to repair power lines, substations and the larger plants. As of 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, FPL had restored power to 55% of their Volusia customers. Duke restored 80%, Clay Electric restored 98% and the Utilities Commission of New Smyrna Beach had restored 60%.
County Manager Jim Dinneen said complete restoration of power is going to take time.
“I know people don’t want to hear that. There is nothing there can be done more than what I think we’re doing and definitely what the power companies are doing," Dinneen said.
Chris Rivals of Duke Energy said Volusia County was one out of the five hardest hit Duke service areas. The storm caused major damage to their system and individual substations.
“It’s going to take, frankly, a long time to restore," Rivals said.
Volenec outlined the steps FPL is taking to restore power in Volusia. First they need to repair the power plants, power lines that carry electricity to local substations, and restore power to hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants and transportation providers. At the same time, they're working to restore power to supermarkets and pharmacies. After focusing on those, they will then converge on the hardest hit neighborhoods and small businesses impacted by Hurricane Irma.
“We know it’s challenging to be without power and I want to assure all our customers that every FPL employee is dedicated to getting the lights back on as safely and quickly as possible," Volenec said.
Dinneen said residents have to be patient, because the power companies are also working to get power in other areas in Florida that were more impacted by Irma. Something they have been saying since "day one" was how Hurricane Irma was going to be different than Hurricane Matthew because Volusia wouldn't be one of the few counties affected. In the case of Irma, due to the increased preparation by the county after last year's storm, Dinneen said Volusia was not one of the worst affected counties in the state.
“We all went through Matthew, so we have a lot of experience, unfortunately relatively recent experience, in dealing with a hurricane of this magnitude," Dinneen said.