Five days after Hurricane Irma,
thousands in the Central Florida region still don’t have power — with some being told they won’t get it back until Tuesday ... maybe.
For many Central Floridians, the frustration intensified Saturday as Duke Energy extended outage times for customers on the Orange-Lake county border to the end of Tuesday.
Sunday was the original estimate for electricity to be restored.
About 31,600 Orange customers and 8,000 in Lake were still without power, according to the company’s mid-day Saturday update.
“We’re basically rebuilding the electric power system,” said Duke Energy spokeswoman Tammie McGee. “That is quite a challenge. … These areas had more significant damage than was first imagined.”
Florida Power and Light estimated about 6,400 were still in the dark Saturday in Seminole County, according to its website.
Restoration was expected to reach 90 percent over the weekend, 95 percent by Monday and 100 percent by Tuesday, the company said.
Mary Emanuel, a paralegal who lives in north Orange County, said she has felt stranded since the power went out.
“We understand they are working and everyone is in line,” said Emanuel, who lives west of U.S. Highway 441. “The problem is, we don’t think we’re in line.”
The Duke Energy map incorrectly showed her home was back online. When she called the company, she couldn’t get answers. The automated system kept saying she was the first to report an outage. Her neighbors drove around trying to flag line crews, but there were no trucks to be seen.
“There’s really a concern,” Emanuel said Saturday. “No one seems to understand we’re out of power.”
McGee said the hurricane overwhelmed the company’s systems.
Customers should ignore any messages that say, “We see no outages in your area” or “You are the first to report an outage in your area,” she said.
If people re-report outages, it does not place them at the end of restoration process, McGee added. Repair work starts with the large transmission systems and works its way down to individual neighborhoods.
“We continue to experience some technical challenges, but our work will continue until we have every customer restored,” she said.