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

Playing pool during a power outage from Hurricane Irma, Lisa Borruso used a headlamp to line up a shot at Gators' Crossroads in Naples, Fla., Monday. Millions of people had their power knocked out by the storm — and some outages will continue for days.
David Goldman

More than 4 million customers in Florida and other states hit by Hurricane Irma remain without electricity, complicating efforts to recover from the huge and intense storm. Some areas also lack water service or are under a mandatory boil water order.

The most outages are in Florida, where nearly 3.8 million accounts don't have power — around 36 percent of the state's total, according to state agency FloridaDisaster.org.

As of Wednesday morning, Florida Power and Light said 1.9 million of its customers were still without electricity, having restored service to 2.5 million out of 4.4 customers impacted by Irma.

"FP&L spokesperson Rob Gould said restoration to nearly all customers in the eastern half of the state should be completed by Sunday night," member station WLRN reports. "The company expects power to be restored to western Florida — more heavily damaged by the storm — by Sept. 22."


At noon Wednesday, Duke Energy said 752,401 of its nearly 1.8 million Florida customers still lack power, with electrical service restored to 641,537 who experienced outages.

Other areas of Florida — such as Seminole, west of Tampa — aren't likely to get power turned back on until "midnight September 17," Duke Energy said.

To turn power back on in Florida, the utility says, work crews must replace "nearly 3,000 poles and 950 miles of wire" in the state.

In Georgia, more than 500,000 electricity accounts are still out of service, Georgia Public Broadcasting reports.

On Monday, Georgia Power reported more than 900,000 outages; Wednesday, the utility says, "We've restored power to more than 590,000 customers statewide in the last 24 hrs."

Those with power restored include more than 300,000 customers in metro Atlanta.

Georgia's Electric Member Corp. says it currently has nearly 192,000 outages.

In North Carolina and South Carolina, where Duke Energy provides electricity for more than 4 million customers, the utility said it has turned the power back on for 160,000 customers and that 48,644 remain affected. The outages range from the coast to far inland cities such as Charlotte and Asheville in North Carolina and Greenville in South Carolina.

In the mountains and upstate areas of the two states, Duke Energy said, people shouldn't expect to have power restored until 11 p.m. on Friday.

South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. says that outages "reached a peak of approximately 154,000 on Monday," when Irma's heavy rains and strong winds buffeted the state, and that about 7,500 outages remain, out of 720,000 customers.

While sewage and water service are still reportedly working in many areas hit by Irma, a number of Florida communities were under mandatory orders to boil their water Wednesday, including the cities of Hollywood and Pembroke Pines — and all of the Florida Keys.

As WLRN notes, "If you're in an area with a boil water notice, that order applies to water for consumption only. You can shower in it, wash clothes with it."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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