More than 2.5 million customers were without power in Florida on Thursday morning, according to PowerOutage.us, after Hurricane Ian made landfall as a destructive Category 4 storm with sustained winds around 150 mph.
The state government worked with hospitals overnight that “had been on generator power,” Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a Thursday morning press briefing. “We’re in the process of evacuating two health care facilities to safer locations north.”
“The catastrophic nature of this storm means that we may need to rebuild parts of our system in Southwest Florida, which will take time,” Florida Power & Light Chairman and CEO Eric Silagy said in a Thursday statement. “We recognize the road to recovery will be long and challenging.”
FPL is the state’s largest electricity provider, with 5.8 million customers. The utility said it has already restored power to more than a half million customers, but as of 5 a.m. EDT, about 1.2 million remained in the dark.
FPL’s restoration workforce has swelled to more than 20,000 workers, the utility said. Initially, the power company said it anticipated about 16,000 workers would be on hand to help restore power after Ian.
Duke Energy tweeted Thursday morning, “we're seeing outage counts increase across the state. Crews are assessing damage and will make repairs where it is safe to do so.” That effort was being complicated by “treacherous and dangerous conditions due to high winds, heavy rain and extensive flooding,” the utility said.
Duke had initially planned on mobilizing nearly 10,000 lineworkers to help in its recovery efforts.
Tampa Electric, with a crew of 3,000 workers, tweeted “we got an early start this morning and are already restoring power in the community.”
According to Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, more than 33,000 workers in total have been mobilized from more than 30 states to help with recovery efforts.
As of 8 a.m. EDT, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Ian had been downgraded to a tropical storm and was located 40 miles east of Orlando. A tropical storm warning remained in effect for parts of Florida, up the east coast to Cape Lookout, North Carolina.