FLORIDA: Millions Face Days Or Weeks Without Power

The Washington Post reports:

Millions of Floridians grappled with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma on Wednesday, confronting a sweltering reality: More than 40 percent of Florida still lacked electricity, and for some of them, the lights might not come back on for days or even weeks.

“We understand what it means to be in the dark,” said Robert Gould, vice president and chief communications officer for Florida Power and Light (FPL), the state’s largest utility. “We understand what it means to be hot and without air conditioning. We will be restoring power day and night.” But, he acknowledged: “This is going to be a very uncomfortable time.”

Across the nation’s third most-populous state, that discomfort played out in homes that were silent without the usual thrum of perpetual air-conditioning. It meant refrigerators were unable to cool milk, laundry machines were unable to clean clothes and, for the particularly young and old, potential danger in a state where the temperatures can range from warm to stifling.

More from the New York Times:

Repairing the grid after a major hurricane is a complex task, experts said. Utilities first have to send crews out to inspect the damage before they can figure out how best to restore service. That assessment can take days, and heavy flooding and debris from the storm can delay workers trying to reach key areas.

Restoration is not always as simple as replacing wires and poles toppled by high winds or fallen trees. Floods can cause damage to electrical substations that link transmission lines with local distribution lines.

Many buildings connected to the grid may also have sustained damage to their electrical systems. Those places need to be identified and isolated from the rest of the network before power starts flowing again, in order to prevent short-circuiting and other safety hazards.