(National Sentinel) Disaster: Hurricane Irma continues to blow through Florida, leaving nearly half the state in the dark as officials with grid operator Florida Power & Light say getting power back to everyone could take “weeks.”
As reported by Fox News, the storm has been downgraded to a Category 1 and is sweeping through the Tampa Bay region. By far, the worst news is the damage Irma has done to the state’s power grid:
Irma continues its slog north along Florida’s western coast having blazed a path of unknown destruction. With communication cut to some of the Florida Keys, where Irma made landfall Sunday, and rough conditions persisting across the peninsula, many are holding their breath for what daylight might reveal.
More than 3.3 million homes and businesses — and counting — have lost power in Florida as Hurricane Irma moves up the peninsula.
The widespread outages stretch from the Florida Keys all the way into central Florida.
What’s more, FP&L expects more outages as the storm makes its way north into Georgia later today.
“What we think we’ll see on the west coast is a wholesale rebuild of our electric grid,” Robert Gould, Florida Power & Light’s vice president and chief communications officer, told ABC News. “That will take weeks.”
Already there are signs of societal breakdown, as reported by NBC News:
Evacuees fled as far north as Tennessee, where Eric Gerhardt of the Tampa Bay area pulled into a shelter with his family at Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis.
“We tailgated up to Tallahassee, slept in the car a little bit, and upon getting to Tallahassee, realized it wasn’t safe,” Gerhardt told NBC affiliate WMC on Sunday.
The trip was “hectic, to say the least,” Gerhardt said. “Fuel shortages abound. There was no water to be had. People were fighting over water when shipments would come in.”
FP&L officials say they have an “army” of line workers and technicians ready to deploy once the storm clears and its safe to go in and begin repairing power lines and restoring the grid.
But clearly, given the damage to infrastructure and homes, it’s likely that hundreds of thousands of people will be displaced well into the fall. Tensions will only worsen.
And let’s not forget, Texas is still reeling from it’s Hurricane Harvey experience. With refineries down and other industrial infrastructure offline, it’s going to be a long, expensive winter.
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