Saturday, 22 September, 2018

Almost 1.9 million still without power in US Southeast after Irma

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Herman Weaver | 17 September, 2017, 06:28

Power outages from Hurricane Irma dropped to about 5.8 million customers in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Alabama by Tuesday afternoon, down from a peak of over 7.4 million late Monday, according to utilities in the affected region. On Monday, when most customers were without power, the storm weakened to a tropical depression.

FPL, the state's biggest electric company, said about 1.3 million customers had no power, down from more than 3.6 million on Monday. The company is prepared to respond with almost 5,500 personnel from the company, other Southern Company operating companies and assisting utilities identified and ready to restore power as quickly and safely as possible following the storm. Those main feeder lines, we go after and attack and get them up and running. Since each power company account can represent more than one person, the sheer number of people without electricity was daunting: Going by the Homeland Security estimates, at one point Irma had knocked out power to one out of every 22 Americans. Utilities workers from other states are also heading to assist the effort in Florida, reports the Associated Press.

"FP&L; spokesperson Rob Gould said restoration to almost all customers in the eastern half of the state should be completed by Sunday night", member station WLRN reports.

At least 32 deaths have been reported in Florida and seven more combined in Georgia and SC.

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It was too soon to say what the power restoration would cost FPL, but in 2016, the company said it spent about $315 million to restore power after Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew, according to NextEra's federal filings.

Parker's crew, which includes electricians from New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina and Canada, works 16-hour shifts in the Florida heat.

Two generator incidents have occurred in Hernando County. Carbon monoxide poisoning is one of the top killers as people turn to gas stoves to stay warm or use portable generators to power their refrigerators or air conditioners. Millions of people who fled Irma may struggle to return home for weeks as crews try to deal with downed lines, debris, and a storm-swamped electrical grid. "Everybody has an obligation and duty as a Georgia Power employee and everybody has a storm role and responsibility", Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins told WSB-TV's Aaron Diamant. Most of those deaths were the result of either medical issues as they prepared for the storm or carbon monoxide poisoning.

"The industry's Irma response is one of the largest and most complex power restoration efforts in USA history", said Tom Kuhn of the Edison Electric Institute, a lobbying group that represents all US investor-owned electric companies. The two nuclear plants have a strong record of weathering intense storms.

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