Irma Aftermath: Florida East Coast May Have Power Back by Sunday

September 13, 2017 02:22 PM

Florida's largest utility says much of the state's east coast could have power back by Sunday, but other areas could take 10 days or more.

Rob Gould, vice president and chief communications officer for Florida Power & Light, said Tuesday that the utility expects to have power on for most customers along the state's eastern coast by the end of this weekend.

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Gould said it would take until the end of Sept. 22 to restore power along the state's western coast where the damage was much more severe. He did say that some areas hit by tornadoes or flooding may take longer.

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FPL says that 2.8 million homes and businesses are without power throughout its service area as of Tuesday.

Utility officials say they have nearly 20,000 workers helping with the restoration effort. FPL says it has gotten crews from as far away as Canada to California.

A convoy of federal emergency management trucks was preparing to head to Florida from an Alabama staging area to help with Irma recovery.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has scheduled 180 trucks to depart Alabama for Florida on Tuesday.

That's according to Richard Brewer, the director of external affairs for FEMA's Center for Domestic Preparedness.

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FEMA had staged 930 tractor-trailer trucks at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery ahead of the storm's arrival.

FEMA maintains large stores of food, bottled water, medical supplies, cots and blankets that are pre-packed and strategically placed at locations throughout the United States. Those supplies were pre-staged on semi-trucks so they can be driven into the disaster zone after the storm passes.

Beyond the luxurious mansions and beachfront resorts are thousands of Florida Keys residents living on the brink of poverty. Advocates say these are the people facing massive hurdles as hurricane clean up begins.

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Stephanie Kaple runs the Florida Keys Outreach Coalition for the Homeless. She says many people who work in hotels and restaurants are already living paycheck to paycheck.

The string of tropical islands that stretch south from Florida, connected by bridges, are home to about 70,000 people, with about 13 percent living in poverty.

In addition to providing shelter and recovery service, Kaple said her organization helps prevent homelessness by paying emergency rent, air conditioner repairs and medical bills for community members in need.

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She said that despite support from the United Way and Monroe County, those funds, post hurricane, will soon be running out.

Elsewhere, the remnants of Irma toppled trees and power lines in Alabama, leaving thousands without electricity, but didn't appear to cause major damage.

Alabama Power Co., the state's largest provider of electricity, reported that on Tuesday morning that 20,000 households and businesses were without power. The power outages were concentrated in the eastern portion of the state.

Irma, at tropical storm status, pelted the state with cold rain and wind gusts as high as 45 mph on Monday. Rains and wind began to dissipate on Tuesday.

Several school systems remained closed on Tuesday after official announced two days of closures ahead of the storm's approach.

Credits

Associated Press

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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