Power Outages Persist For Millions In Florida, Georgia And Carolinas After Irma

Georgia Power crew working on power lines in Roswell in April. HYOSUB SHIN

The utility said earlier Tuesday that 4.4 million of its customers lost power because of Hurricane Irma, but about 25 percent of them had service restored.

Early Wednesday, Duke Energy said 826,129 of its almost 1.8 million Florida customers still lack power, with electrical service restored to 567,809 who experienced outages.

Georgia reported more than 570,000 homes and businesses without electricity, and there were 80,000 in SC. NextEra Energy Inc's FPL, which serves almost 5 million homes and businesses, said it expects to restore power to essentially all customers in the eastern portion of Florida by the end of the weekend and the harder-hit western part of the state by September 22.

"A lot of times, we come on these storms and people get really hostile as far as not really understanding why we can't just flip a light switch and make everything come back on", Parker said.

The nursing home didn't experience a full-blown outage during the storm, but it did lose a transformer that powered its air conditioning.

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

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"Here, with Irma, we're actually sending a lot of lineworkers, line contractors and forestry folks, so it's a different type of expertise that we're sending, but we're sending what the utilities need". Hurricane Irma now has maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour.

Governor Rick Scott, a Republican, warned the many residents still stuck in the dark that "it's going to take us a long time to get the power back up". Restoration is expected to reach 90 percent by Tuesday and wrap up on Wednesday. The state later said 4.4 million customers were without power.

Utility officials, while acknowledging the public's frustration, said they are getting power back on faster than they did after Hurricane Wilma hit the state 12 years ago. Even for those who had power, some were also struggling to maintain cellphone service or Internet access, sending Floridians into tree-riddled streets in an effort to spot a few precious bars of signal to contact loved ones.

Ninety percent of the homes on the islands were destroyed or damaged.

In Miami-Dade County, where roads flooded and debris flew, and more than three-quarters of residents (830,000 out of 1.1 million) are without power as of Monday morning. "Our job is not finished until every customer is reconnected and we want to thank the millions of customers who depend on us for electric service every day for their patience during restoration".

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