Power has been restored to more than 2.1 million customers as of Thursday morning in some of Florida's hardest-hit areas, a week after Hurricane Ian made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane, Florida Power & Light said. Less than 100,000 of its customers are still in the dark, the utility company reported.
"In some of the hardest-hit areas, multiple specialized tree-trimming crews are needed to clear debris for every traditional line crew working to repair or, in some instances, rebuild infrastructure," FPL said in a statement.
Crews have been working around the clock to restore power to customers and made a lot of progress overnight, Eric Silagy, FPL’s Chairman and CEO, said during a press conference held in Fort Meyers.
"Lots of destruction in the area, many buildings are unsafe and need to be inspected before they can actually have the power turned back on. Even when we have power in the area, you have to make sure that your home, your condominium building, your apartment building or your business can safely be restored," Silagy said.
Sanibel Island remains inaccessible and FPL cannot turn the power back on in Fort Meyers Beach until search, rescue and recovery operations cease, according to Silagy.
In a statement Silagy said that progress will "slow some" as FPL focuses on the hardest-hit areas.
FPL expects to restore power to 95% of customers in the counties of Charlotte, DeSoto, Lee and Sarasota (south of Fruitville Road) by end of day Friday, except those who cannot safely accept service or who are still located in heavily-flooded area, the company said in a statement.
A total of more than 186,000 customers remain in the dark in Florida, according to PowerOutage.us.
The death toll from Ian continues to rise with at least 120 people, according to local officials. President Joe Biden visited Florida Wednesday to tour the damage and meet with local officials including Gov. Ron DeSantis.