Power Restoration for More than 2 Million South Floridians Will Take Weeks

irma over florida
Storm clouds over Fisher Island as Hurricane Irma approaches Miami Beach. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, Florida Power and Light (FPL) CEO Eric Silagy announced Sunday evening that more than 2 million households and businesses in South Florida would not get power restoration for weeks. FPL Vice President of Communications Rob Gould also told ABC News that affected areas will see a “wholesale rebuild” of the electrical grid, which could be considered the “longest restoration in U.S. history.” FPL serves more than 10 million customers across Florida.

More than 660,000 power cuts were reported in Broward County, while Miami-Dade County saw 888,530 outages — the area's hardest hit — The Sun-Sentinel reported. For its part, Palm Beach County reached a total of 458,840 outages.

Gould explained the dangerous nature of restoring power. “We expect, given the fact the storm has slowed down, many of our customers will be out for a day or longer, given that, much like emergency responders, our crews cannot get out and work. It’s just too dangerous,” he told the Sun-Sentinel.

Some residents expressed concern after FPL’s announcement.


Miami-Dade county authorities were asking residents to report power outages.

Silagy told The Miami Herald that 17,000 line and vegetation workers are getting ready for restoration works on Monday.  Utility partners from 29 states were expected to join FPL’s repair crew.

If some areas have regained electricity, there was no guarantee that they wouldn't lose power again, according to Gould. As restoration operations begin, priority will be given to FPL’s own power plants, substations and wrecked transmission lines. Then, the company will focus on hospitals, police and fire stations, water treatment plants and communication facilities, the Sun-Sentinel reported. Gas stations, supermarkets, pharmacies and community centers would be next in order of importance.

Repairs and restoration are expected to take over 1 million man hours, yet the cost of the statewide operation is unknown, The Miami Herald reported.

The massive power outage is reminiscent of the damage Hurricane Andrew inflicted on South Florida in 1992, when affected residents had to wait weeks for power to resume. For now, the majority of South Floridians will have to endure a dark, hot night.