Florida continues to recover from Hurricane Irma. But the road to recovery will be long and difficult.
President Donald Trump and Gov. Rick Scott will visit the Naples and Fort Myers area Thursday to inspect the damage. That area took a direct hit from Irma on Sunday when the storm made a second landfall in Florida after hitting the Keys.
Electric crews from as far away as Canada are working around the clock to restore power to Floridians.
Another 600,000 Florida electric customers had their power restored overnight. The number of customers still without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma now stands at 2.7 million.
Miami-Dade County continues to have the most outages with approximately 321,000 customers without power. Followed by Lee County with 265,000 and Broward County with 217,000.
Other counties that still have massive outages (as of 6 a.m. Thursday) include:
- Pinellas 187,000
- Palm Beach 171,000
- Collier 168,000
- Orange 130,000
- Volusia 94,000
- Hillsborough 73,000
Scott has said Florida needs its power on “now.”
The state has started an investigation into the deaths of eight patients of a Broward County nursing home were Hollywood Police say the air conditioning was not “fully functional.” Police have opened a criminal investigation.
Scott has directed the Florida Department of Children and Families and the Agency for Health Care Administration to work with local authorities to determine what happened at The Rehabilitation Center at Hollywood Hills. Scott says the facility reported it had power and claimed to have access to fans and other cooling devices.
Meanwhile, fuel tanker ships continue to arrive at all three of Florida’s major fuel ports–Port Tampa, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral. The Florida Highway Patrol has assigned 20 troopers to provide escorts for fuel resupply trucks to communities that are in need.
FHP has also provided security escorts to 600 utility trucks from the Georgia/Florida border to impacted areas of southwest Florida.
More than 9,000 National Guard troops from Florida and other states remain on duty. They are helping in the recovery efforts in the Keys, as well as helping at shelters, distributing food and water, and conducting search and rescue efforts.
As of Wednesday evening, more than a 100 shelters remained open in Florida serving about 12,000 people.
More than 100 assisted living facilities, 9 hospitals, and 126 other health care facilities, including 44 nursing homes, have evacuated or are closed as of Wednesday night.
The Florida Department of Transportation says it now appears that I-75 will remain open in North Florida. Rising flood waters from the Santa Fe River just north of Gainesville threatened to close one of the state’s major north-south routes. Transportation officials say the flood waters from the river have been receding and it doesn’t appear the river will pose a threat to safety along that part of I-75.