NEWS

Hurricane Irma’s ferocious winds knock down power lines in Florida, cause cascading effects

Power trucks and workers head out from Derby Lane, in St. Petersburg, Fla., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, into Pinellas County to restore power after Hurricane Irma. More than 1 million Georgia Power and Electric Membership Corp. customers were in the dark Tuesday afternoon. (Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times via AP)
Power trucks and workers head out from Derby Lane, in St. Petersburg, Fla., Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, into Pinellas County to restore power after Hurricane Irma. More than 1 million Georgia Power and Electric Membership Corp. customers were in the dark Tuesday afternoon. (Scott Keeler/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

As Irma weakened into a tropical storm early Monday morning, almost 6.7 million homes and businesses were left without power in Florida.

Florida Power and Light (FPL) electric utility, the largest power company in the state, announced approximately 9 million people were impacted by Irma. Duke Energy’s spokesperson, Shawna Berger, disclosed that roughly 3 million people — constituting 1.2 million of 1.8 million accounts — were without power.

During a press conference held on Sept. 11, 2017, the president and CEO of FPL, Eric Silagy said, “It’s also the first storm that has impacted all 27,000 square miles in 35 counties that we serve across Florida. It is a magnitude that we’ve just never seen before.”

The prolonged power outages cascaded across other interdependent critical infrastructure systems as well. In Hialeah, a city northwest of Miami, a pump station servicing the regional sewer system completely lost power, requiring utility personnel to remain on standby until storm conditions recede. Mayor Hernandez released a statement asking residents “to avoid the unnecessary generation of waste water and be cognizant that some may experience sewer backups until the repairs are completed.”

FPL spokesperson Rob Gould, reported the restoration of electric systems “will be a slow and dangerous process that will take weeks,” making sure to prioritize “critical facilities”, which include hospitals, fire stations, communication centers, water treatment plants, transportation systems, and shelters.

Before Irma made landfall on Florida, FPL preemptively closed down one of two nuclear reactors in the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead. However, the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant located in Port St. Lucie, remained online because the storm shifted westward towards Tampa. Fortunately, neither plant endured any damages from the hurricane, but the sites will not be fully active until further inspection.

Irma Hammering Florida: Keys Hit Hard, More Than 6 Million Without Power – The Weather Channel

More than 12 million without power in Florida as Hurricane Irma’s effects linger – The Washington Post

Company Profile – Florida Power and Light

Duke Energy Fast Facts – Duke Energy

FPL Hurricane Irma Update 091117 – FPL Livestream

City of Hialeah – Twitter

Hurricane Irma cuts power to nearly 2 million in South Florida; FPL warns of slow recovery – Sun Sentinel

News Releases – FPL Newsroom

Nuclear plants in Hurricane Irma’s path are shutting down – CNN Money

FPL shuts down one nuclear reactor at Turkey Point – The Miami Herald

FPL nuclear facilities weathered Irma without sustaining damage – TCPalm