One of Florida’s primary public utility companies said Saturday that it is preparing to deal with the largest number of power outages in U.S. history.
Florida Power and Light (FPL) estimates that 3.4 million Floridians could be without power during Hurricane Irma, which is currently making its way toward the western portion of Florida. More than 76,000 people in the state are already without power, according to Gov. Rick Scott.
If all those households do lose power, then it could be the largest number of outages any utility company has ever had to grapple with, FPL spokesman Chris McGrath told reporters.
“We think this could be the most challenging restoration in the history of the U.S.,” he said.
FPL plowed nearly $3 billion into smart grid technologies and stronger infrastructure, which helped the state utility limit the damage from last year’s Hurricane Matthew, but the wind gusts from Irma could prove more challenging, according to McGrath.
Irma, which some forecasters believe is every bit as powerful as Hurricane Andrew in 1992, is on course to hit the western part of Florida Sunday morning. The storm has fluctuated between Category 5 and 3 level hurricane strength, but has maintained most of its form, despite rolling over several small islands.
At least 20 inches of rain were predicted through Wednesday, and Irma’s mass dwarfs that of the entire state of Florida.
The storm has so far demolished nearly everything in its path. The small nation of Barbuda, for instance, was all but destroyed. Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that 95 percent of all structures on the island were damaged or destroyed, leaving the island “barely habitable.”
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