Around 2.6 million people in Florida were without power on Thursday after Hurricane Ian pummeled U.S. soil Wednesday, making landfall on the southwest coast of the state.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said in a Thursday press conference that for some communities, reconnecting power would be much easier than others. He said that some southwestern Florida communities had been essentially "off the grid" because of the scale of the destruction.
FL Gov. DeSantis on the damage to power infrastructure:— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 29, 2022
"Charlotte and Lee reconnects are going to likely have to be rebuilding of that infrastructure. Crews that are on their way down right now, but that's going to be more than just connecting a power line back to a pole." pic.twitter.com/pYsHlYawNx
Ian headed up the U.S. east coast and strengthened into a hurricane again, and was forecast to make landfall in South Carolina.
Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis said the state's nearly 50,000 utility workers had to wait until Ian passed before they could get out and start to restore power, which was a major part of the delay.
The number of outages grew from Wednesday to Thursday, and around 24% of the state's customers were stuck recovering without adequate power service.
The website PowerOutage.us reported that areas including Lee, Charlotte and Sarasota in Florida were totally without power.
Storm surge in the southwest city of Naples had half of its streets considered "not passable," the New York Times reported.
Rescue workers were forced to take down addresses and also wait until the storm passed before they could go out on rescue and recovery missions.
Lee County reported the most outages in the state, according to poweroutage.us. More than 300,000 customers were without power in the county, near where the hurricane made landfall.
Florida Power & Light told customers earlier on Thursday that residents shouldn't let their "guard down" as the service expected "widespread, extended outages from Hurricane Ian across much" of their service area.
We urge you to not let your guard down, regardless of where you live. We are expecting widespread, extended outages from Hurricane Ian across much of our service area. Please be prepared and stay safe. pic.twitter.com/rpDP4CdhmA— Florida Power & Light (@insideFPL) September 28, 2022
Gov. DeSantis said the state's utility workers were working with the restoration process.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the hurricane had top sustained winds of 150 mph, with hurricane-force winds extending 45 miles from the center.
As many were relying on generators for electricity, officials warned the public about the dangers of generators.
The Consumer Protection Safety Commission said that 85% of carbon monoxide deaths are from portable generators.
The CSPC offers the following tips for staying safe while using generators:
- Never operate a portable generator inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or shed. Opening doors or windows will not provide enough ventilation to prevent the buildup of lethal levels of CO.
- Operate portable generators outside only, at least 20 feet away from the house, and direct the generator’s exhaust away from the home and any other buildings that someone could enter, while keeping windows and other openings closed in the path of the generator’s exhaust. Do not operate a generator on an outside porch or in a carport. They are too close to the home.
- Check that portable generators have been maintained properly, and read and follow the labels, instructions, and warnings on the generator and in the owner’s manual.
- Look for portable generators that have a CO shut-off safety feature, which is designed to shut the generator off automatically when high levels of CO are present around the generator. Some models with CO shut-off features also have reduced emissions. These models may be advertised as certified to the latest safety standards for portable generators–PGMA G300-2018 and UL 2201–which are estimated to reduce deaths from CO poisoning by 87% and 100%.