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Nearly 70,000 outages restored amid Hurricane Dorian

Source: 
South Florida Sun Sentinel

Sep. 4--Florida Power & Light Co. said Tuesday it has restored power so far to nearly 70,000 customers as Hurricane Dorian's outer bands moved over the coast.

Juno Beach-based FPL, the largest electric utility in the state, provides power to 5 million homes and businesses in Florida. The utility was able to use its smart-grid technology to turn power back on at some sites while utility crews worked on others.

As of noon Tuesday, outages were reported as: 1,759 in Palm Beach County, 808 in Broward County and 532 in Miami-Dade County. By 3 p.m., outages climbed to 2,224 in Palm Beach County, but fell to 565 in Broward and 779 in Miami-Dade. At 5 p.m. outages had fallen to 1,014 in Palm Beach County, climbed to 675 in Broward and were down to 582 in Miami-Dade.

But outages could swell as Hurricane Dorian headed north.

Overgrown vegetation and debris blowing into power lines has already caused some outages, especially along the coast. "We all want to get back to normal, non-storm lives, but an abundance of caution is warranted for everyone, throughout the east coast of Florida," spokesman Bryan Garner said.

FPL warned its customers Tuesday to stay alert about Hurricane Dorian because tropical-force winds extend 100 miles from the storm's center. Power outages could increase, the utility said.

Despite forecasts that the hurricane's path is expected to move north, "Dorian remains a very dangerous hurricane and FPL is treating it as such," said FPL spokesman David Reuter at a news conference from the electric utility's command center in Riviera Beach.

"We are still not in the clear. We remind customers to be ready for power outages and possibly more than one outage," Reuter said.

State residents in low-lying areas and areas impacted by flooding and storm surge to stay off the roads and stay indoors until the storm passes and local officials give the "all clear."

Hurricane Dorian weakened to a Category 2, and the hurricane watch was canceled Tuesday for Palm Beach County. The tropical storm watch was canceled for Broward County.

For those who relocated to avoid the anticipated wrath of Hurricane Dorian, Reuter said to heed local government officials about when the roads are safe to return after the storm.

About 17,000 crews are ready to restore power and to move to about a dozen potential sites from Palm Beach County to St. Augustine, including a site at the South Florida Fairgrounds west of West Palm Beach. But if the storm moves north, FPL said it will "reallocate resources to assist those in Dorian's path," such as Georgia and the Carolinas.

For safety reasons, utility workers cannot start that power restoration process until the winds are under 35 mph, FPL said.

Within 24 hours of the damage assessment after the storm, FPL said Tuesday that it would be able to give restoration estimates to 95 percent of those affected within an area.

Reuter said FPL customers can check power status of their area through FPL's app, online at FPL.com/storm, or by calling 1-800-4-OUTAGE (468-8243). Customers whose counties are experiencing a storm should see their power outage status when they pull up their account on FPL's app. Customers also can go to the "Power Tracker Map" map on the app or online and enter their address to see outages in their area.

FPL said its power restoration process begins with repairing any damage to its own power plants and major power lines, then main lines that power 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.

The electric utility has spent $4 billion since 2006 to upgrade its grid and has a pilot program to put more power lines underground. FPL provides power to half the state, or about 5 million homes and businesses.

FPL gives these tips to help residents stay safe and help them restore power 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.

Heed Florida's Move Over law that requires drivers to slow down and move over whenever a utilty, law enforcement or first responder is on the side of the road.

Let utility crews do their job, by not stopping them to ask when power will be restored. That can slow their work and restoration.

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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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