More than 35,000 electric utility workers from 26 states continued working Oct. 15 to restore power knocked out by Hurricane Michael in the Southeastern states.
Reports on the number of customers still without power in the areas of Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina impacted by the storm vary and change constantly, but all sources show the number quickly dropping, as more than a dozen affected utilities and co-ops make good use of the flood of incoming help to get the power back on.
Still, several heavily damaged counties in Florida, including Bay, Gulf, Calhoun and Jackson counties, will need deeper power remediation due to more severely damaged infrastructure, such as power poles cut in two. “In the zone around Bay County and Dog Island, we don’t have estimated restoration dates,” says a spokesperson for Duke Energy.
Residents close to where the eye of the hurricane made landfall still are taking stock of their losses and hunkering down to rebuild, find temporary shelter or move. “A lot of people are never coming back,” predicts Ethan Ming, a resident of Mexico Beach, Fla.
in the Florida Panhandle, 38% of gas stations remained closed on Monday, and a string of others along the storm path of Michael remain closed as well, according to a release from the U.S. Dept. of Energy. The DOE says seven states remain in a state of emergency.
Meanwhile, emergency responders from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers installed their first generator on Saturday at Florida’s Jackson County Fire and Rescue, according to the department's Twitter feed.
The Corps has also sent a structural engineering team to Tyndall Air Force Base near Panama City to help assess structural damage to the hangars.
In a base website report, Col. Brian Laidlaw, 325th Fighter Wing commander, said Hurricane Michael’s sustained winds of up of to 150 mph “significantly damaged every structure throughout the base.”
Laidlaw added, “Our base requires extensive cleanup and repairs. We need to restore basic utilities, clear our roads of trees and power lines, and assess the structural integrity of our buildings.”
In a letter to base personnel of the base, who were evacuated a week ago, Laidlaw, warned that the evacuation may continue for some time and said it may be “a couple of weeks” before power can be restored. He promised personnel will soon have limited access to return to check on their homes and gather belongings, but said they will not be able to stay at this time.
He told the base personnel, “My main effort right now is two-fold. First, we are preparing the base to receive and bed down a unit with a focus on repairs, Second, I’m making the base safe for your return. This means cutting trees blocking roads in our neighborhoods and removing dangerous debris. We’ve lost a lot of tires on our trucks and other vehicles driving over nails and other debris. If we open the gates too soon we might make problems worse.”