Rescue workers congregate to help restore power in Florida

With electric utilities being severely affected by hurricane Irma, rescue workers, including some from far away California, are chipping in to restore power. More than million people have been affected by power cuts in Florida.

As per local electric utilities, on Sunday, hurricane Irma had knocked out power to more than 3 million homes and businesses in Florida a full restorations of which would take weeks.

As a Category 4 storm, hurricane Irma hit Florida on Sunday morning and by the afternoon it was barreling up the west coast and weakened to a Category 2 storm with maximum sustained winds of 110 miles per hour (177 kph).

So far, the brunt of its impact has been felt by Florida Power & Light’s customers in the states’ southern and eastern sections. Its own operations have also been impacted.

“We are not subject to any special treatment from Hurricane Irma. We just experienced a power outage at our command center. We do have backup generation,” said Rob Gould, FPL’s spokesman.

With more than 2.9 million customers, FPL, a unit of NextEra Energy Inc, is the biggest power company in Florida. On Sunday, by 7:40 p.m. (2030 GMT), more than 200,000 of its customers had their electricity restored.

As per Gould, the company’s system will have to be rebuilt, particularly in western Florida.

“That restoration process will be measured in weeks, not days,” said Gould.

Large utilities companies that serve other parts of the state, including units of Southern Co, Duke Energy Corp, and Emera Inc, were seeing their outage figures grow as hurricane Irma pushed northwards.

Duke’s outages more than tripled between 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. On Sunday evening the company warned its customers that outages may last a week or longer.

Emera’s Tampa Electric utility said Irma is likely to impact 500,000 to 730,000 homes and businesses that it serves.

The utilities had thousands of workers, some from as far away as California, ready to help restore power once Irma’s high winds pass their service areas. About 17,000 were assisting FPL, nearly 8,000 at Duke and more than 1,300 at Emera.

On Sunday, Tampa Electric told customers that response crews were halting work because of the high winds.

On Friday, FPL said Irma could affect nearly 4.1 million customers, but that was before the storm track shifted away from the eastern side of the state. The bulk of its customers are located in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

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