JACKSONVILLE, Fla.—JEA's chief executive officer admitted to city leaders that the utility "blew it" when it came to its promise to customers that power would be restored by midnight Tuesday. As late of Tuesday evening, 26,000 customers remained in the dark.

"They are going to have to answer to this," said city council member John Crescimbeni. "The only thing worse than being out of power is being told you are going to be back in business and that not happening."

JEA officials told city council members that Hurricane Matthew did $30 million in damage to the city's power grid. They said restoration was complicated by fallen trees and branches.

For residents on their fifth day with no power, batteries and patience are running low.

"It's been a nightmare," said Juanita Walls-Horsley, who says she hasn't been able to get a straight answer on when her service will be restored.

JEA refused to speak to the media tonight about the communication breakdown. Via text message, a spokeswoman said the utility is concentrating all of its efforts on restoration.

JEA told council members it was getting help from utilities across Florida and 4 different states.

Crescimbeni says he wants to find out why JEA promised what it couldn't deliver.

"I am committed to finding out what happened, how it happened and making sure it doesn't happen in the future.