Over 6 million lose power from Irma in US Southeast - utilities

Over 6 million lose power from Irma in US Southeast - utilities

Utility workers fix power lines in Marathon, Florida, after Hurricane Irma. Since customers includes homes and businesses, these numbers do not reflect the full amount of individuals who lost electricity. At the height of the outages, 4.4 million FPL customers were without power. At least 17 storm-related deaths have been reported on the U.S. mainland, according to officials. "We had 4.4 million customers impacted and we've already restored 1.3 million", Silagy said.

Most outages were still in FPL's service area in the southern and eastern parts of Florida.

- FLORIDA: About 3.8 million customers as of Wednesday morning.

Florida outages for Duke, the state's second biggest power company serving the northern and central parts of the state, remained at about 1.2 million overnight, according to the company's website, while Duke's outages in North and SC climbed to about 160,000. As of Monday evening, 54 hospitals were operating on backup generators, according to data reported to the Florida Department of Health.

For customers using electric generators, FPL advised residents to set them up outside, away from all open windows, to prevent deadly exhaust from entering a home. In March, a couple in MI died of carbon monoxide poisoning while running a generator inside their enclosed garage attached to their house during widespread power outages from a windstorm. The deaths occur after the storm has ended but if there are power outages.

"This is likely to be one of the largest and most complex power restoration efforts in US history", said Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group.

More than 60,000 workers from across the United States and Canada were involved in the restoration efforts, including those from the affected companies and other utilities, according to the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group.

The fatalities should spur everyone to check up on senior citizens, who are among the most vulnerable to Florida's stifling heat, exacerbated by power outages that might extend into next week, Hollywood Mayor Josh Levy said.

FPL said after repairing any damage to its power plants and the lines that carry electricity from the generating facilities, the company next restores "critical facilities", like hospitals, police and fire stations, communication facilities, water treatment plants, transportation providers and shelters. The company, however, warned it would take longer to restore customers with tornado damage or severe flooding. FPL reduced power at one reactor at the St. Lucie nuclear plant due to salt buildup in a switchyard from Irma.

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