Florida power company says restoration 'will take weeks' after Irma

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Almost 4.5 million homes and businesses lost power in the storm that made landfall in the US on Sunday, and utility officials say it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone.

More than 20,000 utilities workers from 30 states and Canada stationed at almost 30 staging sites across the state are assessing damage and restoring power. "We expected to see more extensive damage on the west coast".

As of 11 a.m. Monday morning, 359 customers were without power in Gulf Power's service area - mostly in the Bay County area.

The crews will help with power restoration efforts. In the three-county region, power has returned to about 73,000 customers in the past 24 hours, according to FPL's data. We have had 4.4 million customers impacted, we have already restored 1.3 million. "We will be bringing it back up", Gould said. "But as the days move forward, you will see those numbers slow in their decline". "Some parts of the county and some individuals will be up quicker than others". Fixes to main distribution lines and restoration of power to critical facilities take priority over some residential neighborhoods. "Traffic lights are out, trees and fences down, no gas for miles and no electricity", she emailed to the Miami Herald. Many of them have come from other states to assist in the effort.

FPL said a workforce of almost 19,500 has been working around the clock to restore electricity to all customers.

Utilities have invested billions into strengthening the power grid in recent years, but the improvements weren't enough to resist Irma's strong winds, the Wall Street Journal reports. "We are working on that", said Rob Gould, FPL's chief of communications from FPL's command headquarters. "As part of this partnership, Gulf Power line crews provide assistance to other utilities when service to their customers is interrupted due to severe weather, and have traveled as far away as NY to assist with restoration following Superstorm Sandy", said Rogers.

Alongside FPL, Duke Energy reported more than 1.2mn customers were without power and Tampa Electric reported about 328,000 customers in the dark.

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