Millions Left Without Power As Hurricane Ian Devastates Florida
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

More than 2.5 million businesses and homes in Florida were left without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian on Thursday morning as utility companies work to repair the state’s electrical grid.

Hurricane Ian made landfall Wednesday on the Gulf Coast of Florida at nearly the strength of a Category 5 storm. With winds exceeding 150 miles per hour, the storm is tied for the fourth-strongest hurricane to ever hit the Sunshine State, according to data from Colorado State University meteorologist Philip Klotzbach.

According to data from PowerOutage.US, some regions in the path of the storm — including Hardee County, DeSoto County, and Lee County — are witnessing power outage rates as high as 100%. Most outages are concentrated in central Florida, with minimal outages in the western portion of the state and some outages in the Miami area.

Roughly one-third of the two million Duke Energy customers tracked by PowerOutage.US are without power. The company mobilized nearly 10,000 lineworkers, tree professionals, and damage assessment personnel in safe locations across Florida in the days before the hurricane made landfall.

“At Duke Energy, we do all we can to minimize the impact of storms and ensure the safety of our customers, communities and crews,” Duke Energy Florida storm director Todd Fountain said in a press release. “We are actively monitoring Ian’s path, intensity and timing, and we’re bringing in additional resources from our Midwest territory and mutual assistance programs to restore power as conditions allow.”

Nearly all 220,000 Lee County Electric Coop customers tracked by PowerOutage.US are presently without power. The firm made similar preparations in the days before the storm.

“The first priority is to repair any damage to the transmission system, because these high-voltage lines supply power from a generating plant to one or more distribution substations and serve tens of thousands of customers,” the company said on its website, advising customers to use backup generators and make other preparations.

The city of Naples — located in Collier County, where most residents are without power — issued a boil water notice “out of an abundance of caution” amid systemwide water pressure problems. “It is advised that all water used for drinking and cooking be brought to a rolling boil for one minute,” a statement said. “Or, as an alternative, bottled water may be used.”

Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL) announced on Wednesday that he requested 100% reimbursement from the federal government to ensure that Florida can “quickly move forward into response and recovery.” The state government has mobilized “fleets of highwater vehicles, 42,000 linemen, 7,000 National Guardsmen and 179 aircraft” in response to the hurricane.

The National Hurricane Center has warned of a “catastrophic storm surge inundation” of 12 to 18 feet above ground level and destructive waves along the coastline of southwestern Florida. The bulletin likewise warned that “catastrophic wind damage” had already occurred as speeds reached up to 155 miles per hour. Officials cautioned that the storm presents a “life-threatening situation” and that people must “take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions.”

Ryan Saavedra contributed to this report.

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