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Hurricane Dorian's shift could mean fewer power outages for South Florida

Source: 
South Florida Sun Sentinel

Sep. 3--Hurricane Dorian's projected path appeared to be steering clear of South Florida on Monday night, but Florida Power & Light Co. said to remain "vigilant" as the region still faces the risk of hurricane-force winds.

FPL and forecasters said the storm could ramp up into Tuesday, causing wider power outages. Even tropical-force winds from the slow-moving hurricane could knock out power, the utility said.

"Dorian remains a very dangerous hurricane with an unpredictable track and intensity as it inches toward Florida," said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of Juno Beach-based electric utility that provides power to half the state.

At 10 p.m. Monday, power was out just over 1,100 homes and businesses in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

But FPL urged customers to not make assumptions about Dorian's track and intensity, and to prepare to be without power.

FPL said it couldn't give an estimate on power outages until after it assessed damage from the storm.

The utility said the hurricane's winds and flooding, together with equipment damage and fallen trees, could delay restoration, requiring crews to repair large parts of the electric grid.

The Juno Beach-based utility, which provides power to half the state including South Florida, has readied a team of some 17,000 workers, including crews from 34 states and Canada, who begin restoring power when the winds are under 35 mph.

"As long as it's safe, we'll be out there restoring power and we won't stop working until every customer's electricity is back on," Silagy said.

INTERACTIVE MAP: See the forecast path of Hurricane Dorian »

The electric utility set up equipment in Daytona Beach and Lake City, and then restoration crews will move to about a dozen work sites stretching from Palm Beach County to St. Augustine. The South Florida Fairgrounds was one of those sites, as of Monday.

FPL says storm surge, flooding, and downed power lines from fallen trees and debris could potentially slow the restoration process in Hurricane Dorian.

The utility's power restoration begins with its own power plants and power lines that bring electricity to substations, then main lines to police, fire, hospitals and other critical infrastructure identified by counties. At the same time, FPL starts to restore power to major roads, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations. Finally, the utility gets to individual neighborhoods and the more damaged communities.

FPL spokesman David Reuter at a news conference Monday that FPL will be able to give restoration estimates to "95 percent" of those affected in an area within 24 hours of its damage assessment.

Electric customers can check their homes' power status on FPL's app, on the utility's automated line, 1-800-4-OUTAGE (468-8243), or online at FPL.com/storm.

FPL has spent $4 billion so far to upgrade its grid and has a pilot program to put more power lines underground.

The utility gives these tips to help residents stay safe after a storm:

Be wary about being out on the roads until the "all clear" by officials. Traffic signals may not be working.

Don't go into standing water, there may be a downed power line.

Stay away from all FPL equipment after the storm, as it may be energized.

Let utility crews do their job, which will help get power restored faster.

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(c)2019 the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)

Visit the Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) at www.sun-sentinel.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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