Nearly 2 mil­lion, mostly in Florida, without power in Irma’s wake


MIAMI: About 1.9 mil­lion homes and busi­nesses in Florida, Ge­or­gia and the Caroli­nas re­mained without power from Hur­ri­cane Irma on Fri­day, five days af­ter the deadly storm ripped through the US South­east.

Irma, which ranked as one of the most pow­er­ful At­lantic storms on record be­fore strik­ing the US main­land as a Cat­e­gory 4 hur­ri­cane on Sept. 10, took at least 82 deaths. Sev­eral hard-hit Caribbean is­lands, in­clud­ing Puerto Rico and the US Vir­gin Is­lands, suf­fered more than half the fa­tal­i­ties.

About 1.8 mil­lion cus­tomers were without elec­tric­ity in Florida, in­clud­ing 281,400 homes and busi­nesses served by mu­nic­i­pal power com­pa­nies and elec­tric co­op­er­a­tives.

Among the state’s public util­i­ties, Florida Power & Light, owned by Nex­tEra En­ergy Inc. (NEE.N) and the state’s biggest elec­tric com­pany, re­ported about 1.1 mil­lion cus­tomers had no power. Duke En­ergy Corp. (DUK.N) said 375,400 cus­tomers were in the dark and Tampa Elec­tric, a unit of Emera Inc. (EMA.TO), said about 36,600 were without elec­tric­ity.

An­other 116,900 cus­tomers in Ge­or­gia, South Carolina and North Carolina also re­mained in the dark on Fri­day.

At least 32 deaths have been re­ported in Florida and seven more com­bined in Ge­or­gia and South Carolina.

The death toll in­cludes eight el­derly peo­ple who died af­ter be­ing ex­posed to swel­ter­ing heat in­side a nurs­ing home north of Miami that had been left with lit­tle or no air con­di­tion­ing af­ter the hur­ri­cane struck.

The deaths at the Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­ter at Hol­ly­wood Hills on Wed­nes­day stirred out­rage over what many saw as a pre­ventable tragedy and height­ened con­cerns about the vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the state’s large el­derly pop­u­la­tion amid wide­spread, lin­ger­ing power out­ages.

“It was un­nec­es­sary,” Ben­detta Craig, whose 87-year-old mother was among dozens of res­i­dents safely moved from the cen­ter, told re­porters on Thurs­day.

“I don’t know what hap­pened in­side. I wasn’t there. I hope the truth comes out. It is just sense­less,” she said.

Po­lice ob­tained a search war­rant on Thurs­day in their crim­i­nal investigation into the deaths, while Florida’s health care agency or­dered the nurs­ing home to be sus­pended from the state Med­i­caid program.

FPL, which serves nearly 5 mil­lion homes and busi­nesses, said it ex­pects to re­store power to es­sen­tially all its users, in the east­ern por­tion of Florida, by the end of the week­end and the harder-hit west­ern por­tion of the state by Sept. 22.

A house rests on the beach af­ter col­laps­ing off a cliff from Hur­ri­cane Irma in Vi­lano Beach, Fla., Fri­day. (AP)

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