Officials Worry Thousands Of Floridians May Not Have Power For Thanksgiving
Officials in Florida believe residents could be without power for as long as two months as public utilities hurry to restore electricity to areas slammed by Hurricane Michael.
Lynn Haven Mayor Margo Anderson told citizens they should prepare to live primitively for the next two months, or at least until after Thanksgiving. Some utilities in the area are suggesting that number might be a bit overblown.
“Just about every tree is down,” Anderson told reporters Sunday night while surveying some of Michael’s aftermath. “The power lines are destroyed. The transformers are destroyed. The power grid is destroyed. We have to start over.”
Some 371,000 customers are still without electricity in parts of Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia, according to the Edison Electric Institute. More than 2.3 million customers in the affected areas have had their power restored.
Gulf Power, the main utility in the area, meanwhile estimated Sunday that electricity would be restored in Anderson’s town by Oct. 24. Duke Energy is less certain about a time frame – the company is not yet able to estimate how long it might take to get the lights back on in portions of the panhandle, which took the brunt of Michael’s fury on Oct. 10.
Utility companies say damage from the Category 4 storm, which became a Post-Tropical Cyclone shortly after making landfall, will make restoring power a Herculean effort. (RELATED: Thousands Feared Missing After Hurricane Michael Battered Multiple States, Death Toll Rises)
“It’s almost like a huge bulldozer went down the middle of Panama City and straight up through,” Jeff Rogers, a Gulf Power spokesman, said in a statement shortly after Anderson’s walkabout. “This is kind of the Super Bowl of all big storms.”
A large, complicated mission to locate and rescue missing people is still underway in Florida, Georgia, and parts of Virginia.
Emergency officials say they have received thousands of phone calls and messages asking about missing people in the area, the Miami Herald reported Saturday night. Downed cell phone service and destroyed infrastructure makes it difficult to determine who among the missing is safe.
Volunteers consisting of firefighters and other emergency crew found more than 520 people who had been reported missing, Matthew Marchetti, the co-founder of CrowdSource Rescue, told Reuters Saturday. Michael made its way to portions of Georgia and South Carolina after initial slamming Mexico Beach and Panama City. At least 19 people have been killed.