Power restoration efforts on the First Coast after Hurricane Irma

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- As Irma slowly continues to dissipate over Alabama, power restoration efforts across Florida and Georgia ramp up.

Just over five million electric customers in the State of Florida remained powerless as of 6 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12. Of those customers, approximately 342,000 of them live on the First Coast, from Nassau County down to Flagler.

Counties in Southeast Georgia are also reeling from power outages caused by Irma's far-reaching outer rain bands and wind gusts. As of Tuesday morning, Charlton, Camden and Glynn Counties all showed outages, with Georgia Power customers in Glynn County experiencing the most.

A total of 216 outages in the three counties are affecting around 50,881 Georgia Power customers as of 6 a.m. Tuesday. The company's alert messaging system stated Monday evening that there were over 925,000 customers without power across the state. Georgia Power has said they have approximately 5,500 field personnel prepared to respond to outages.

"Georgia Power expects widespread, extensive damage due to high winds, heavy rain and fallen trees," Georgia Power's alert message read. "In affected areas, where conditions are safe enough, crews will continue to evaluate the damage and restore power as quickly as possible."

Georgia Power also said that power restoration efforts, depending on the extent of the damage, could take up to several days and possibly weeks.

Of the 342,000 customers without power in Northeast Florida, more than 160,000 of them exist on the JEA power grid. Countywide, there are a total of 627 outages, as of 9 a.m., a majority of which are in Jacksonville's Arlington and Southside neighborhoods.

 

 

To the south, over 93,000 Florida Power & Light customers in St. Johns and Flagler Counties are without power Tuesday morning. Approximately 45 percent of electric customers in St. Johns and 76 percent of customers in Flagler remain affected by FPL outages.

All 86,800 FPL customers in St. Johns County were affected by outages on Monday. As of Tuesday, 37,740 customers have been restored. Likewise in Flagler County, all 58,000 FPL customers lost power at one point during the storm. Over 13,000 have been restored as of 6 a.m. Tuesday.

Putnam County, which consists of both FPL and Clay Electric customers, continues to suffer from extensive power outages, as well. As of Tuesday morning, around 15,000 FPL and 14,000 Clay Electric customers are without power, approximately 70 percent of Putnam County. A large majority of those outages exist along the county line between Clay and Putnam and in the Town of Interlachen.

Lingering outages in Middleburg, Lakeside and Orange Park have left over 36,000 Clay Electric customers in Clay County without power. Numerous downed power lines and extensive flooding in the area is still affecting around 46 percent of the county, a significant change from the 86 percent that was affected Monday afternoon.

 

 

Nearly all Clay Electric customers in Baker County are without power Tuesday morning, and 1,948 FPL customers remain affected by outages. A total of 4,490 FPL customers had been affected by the storm, but 2,420 customers have been restored as of Tuesday morning, according to the FPL outage map.

“We ask our members to be patient," said Wayne Mattox, Clay Electric Communications Manager. "We will be working as hard as we can to get power restored to as many members as safely and quickly as possible."

On Monday afternoon, Clay Electric announced on its Facebook page that outside cooperatives and contract crews were en route from Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Kentucky and Wisconsin to expedite power restorations.

In Bradford County, where record flooding from Hurricane Irma was seen, around 73 percent of Clay Electric and FPL customers remain affected by outages, a majority of which are around the City of Starke.

The total number of FPL customers in Bradford County who lost power during the storm was over 4,000, but as of Tuesday morning, 1,280 customers have been restored.

To the north, approximately 61 percent of FPL customers in Nassau County are still without power on Tuesday. All 21,800 FPL customers in the county lost power on Monday, according to the FPL outage map. So far, 5,810 customers have had power restored, while approximately 13,400 remain in the dark.

"We're experiencing widespread outages and there is no need to report your outage at this time," an FPL alert message reads. "Rest assured, we are committed to restoring your power safely and as quickly as possible."

Statewide, FPL has been able to restore power to over 40 percent of its customers, according to Rob Gould, Vice President of Communications for FPL.

Gould said a majority of the outages around the state were caused by debris and vegetation that had been blown into power lines. The damage seen on east coast of Florida will require more "traditional" line repair as opposed to the damage seen on the west coast, which will require some electrical infrastructure to be rebuilt, according to Gould.

"We are definitely not seeing the poles down like we anticipated," Gould said during a noon press conference.

The first step in restoring power in Florida, Gould said, will be to get FPL generation facilities online and then address critical infrastructure like hospitals and police stations. After that, the company would address feeders that supply the most amount of electricity to customers along those lines, followed by rural neighborhoods and small townships.

Gould reiterated during the press conference how FPL did not want its customers calling in to let the company know they are out of power.

"Our crews have iPads in their trucks," Gould said. "They are able to look at their iPads and see what is in service and what is not in service and they can address before they leave the neighborhood."

Gould said FPL nuclear reactors power plants will be brought back online in a "very deliberate manor." However, the company will not announce to the public when they turn them back on. The nuclear reactors did not sustain damage from Hurricane Irma, according to Gould.

"We know you need your power back on," Gould said. "We know it is extremely uncomfortable. We beg for your patience."

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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