Power will take weeks to restore after Hurricane Irma

CARIBBEAN SEA - SEPTEMBER 8: In this NOAA handout image, NOAA's GOES satellite shows Hurricane Irma passing the eastern end of Cuba at about 8:00 am EST on September 8, 2017. Hurricane Irma barreled through the Turks and Caicos Islands as a category 4 storm en route to a destructive encounter with Florida this weekend. (Photo by NOAA GOES Project via Getty Images)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Florida Power & Light says it will be weeks, not days, before electricity is fully restored because of the damage being done by Hurricane Irma.

Spokesman Rob Gould said Sunday that an estimated 3.4 million homes and businesses will lose power once the worst of Irma reaches the Florida mainland. He expects thousands of miles (kilometers) of poles and lines will need to be replaced, particularly on the Gulf coast. As of Sunday afternoon, about 1.5 million customers were without power.

He said 17,000 restoration workers from as far away as California and Massachusetts are already stationed around the state, but it will take time to rebuild the system.

The utility covers much of the state, including most cities on the Atlantic coast and the Gulf coast south of Tampa. It does not cover Tampa and St. Petersburg, two major cities in Irma’s forecast path.

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