Americas News

Millions remain without power in Florida in wake of Hurricane Irma

Satellite imagery of Florida power outages before (left) and after (right) Irma. NOAA/CIMSS/Washington Post

Over four million Florida customers – 41 percent of the state – remain without power on Wednesday, September 13, three days after category-4 Hurricane Irma made landfall at Marco Island, Florida, just south of Naples. The number of outages is down 2.5 million from its peak on Sunday.

The National Weather Service warned that some outages could last for weeks, if not months.

Florida Power and Light, which supplies power to almost 5 million customers, said on Twitter that they had a “record workforce of nearly 19,500″ employees working to restore power throughout the region.

The numbers of customers without power doesn’t translate directly to the total number of people affected, which may have been as high as 15 million people.

Meanwhile, 361,000 Georgia Power customers are still without power statewide as tropical storm force winds from Irma brought trees down on Monday.

A model produced by the Ohio State University, Texas A&M, and the University of Michigan estimated that up to 2.5 million people would be affected by power outages caused by Irma; the storm easily surpassed that number. According to Citylab, “the model takes into account blackout data from hurricanes of years past as well as current weather conditions like maximum windspeed and soil moisture.”

Power crews from as far away as Maryland and New York have stepped in to help Florida utilities restore power throughout the state.

Some normalcy is coming back to the area hit by Irma, but progress will be slow. On Tuesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott reported that the state’s three major fuel ports had reopened after being closed for several days.

But islands including Barbuda, the Antilles, and the Virgin Islands were hard-hit by the storm. Urban search and rescue teams continue working throughout the area to assess the catastrophic storm damage which Irma brought and to try to ensure that citizens are safe.

Officials said Barbuda, a small Caribbean island with a population of around 1,600, is “practically uninhabitable” after the brunt of Irma’s force passed overhead. Mayor Gaston Browne reported 90 percent of structures on the island are damaged. Irma passed by Barbuda at its peak strength with 185 mph sustained winds.


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