As Hurricane Matthew continues to huff and puff along Florida’s east coast, as of 9am this morning, Florida Power & Light reported that 206,660 of their customers already had power restored. Crews from several utility companies were working to restore another 593,875 who are still without power, but that number is expected to grow as the storm tracks northward toward a showdown with Jacksonville and the surrounding communities in Duval County.
Florida Power & Light reports they have approximately 3,100 FP&L linemen and vegetation crews moving in behind the storm, with an additional 6,300 external crews already getting to work. Utility crews rode out the storm in staging areas outside the impact zone, then swooped in as soon as Matthew passed and set to work cutting down trees, removing live powerlines from intersections, and repairing damaged transformers. Drone footage in Lakeland showed a massive mobilization by FP&L utility crews, cherry-pickers, and tree-removal crews as they began to move in to the storm-stricken coast:
FPL expects to restore power to all customers in Miami-Dade and Broward counties and to the majority of customers in Palm Beach County by end of day Friday, Oct. 7, with all customers in Palm Beach County restored by Saturday, Oct. 8. Within a few hours after the storm clears Central and North Florida, FPL says they will communicate estimates of when customers in that region will have their power restored.
Acknowleging the well-coordinated emergency response in a press conference on Friday morning, President Barack Obama specifically thanked the governors of the coastal states that are potentially in the storm impact areas.
“The governors have been on top of this,” President Obama said. “State and local emergency officials have been on top of this.”
By comparison, Hurricane Hermine, a Category 1 storm with winds gusting as high as 79 mph when it made landfall, knocked out power to just 325,000 homes in Leon County and the surrounding communities, but it took a patchwork of city, county, and utility crews from across the state more than a week to restore power to all residents.