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Damp, Dark and Disarrayed, Florida Starts Coping With Irma’s Aftermath

12 September 2017 1:16 AM
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Jake Love, a resident of East Naples on Florida’s west coast, returned to his mobile home on Monday to find about a foot of water in his driveway and a piece of his siding bent upward, but no more ruinous damage than that. Mr. Love said he had moved to Florida just a month ago from Minnesota with his parents, and had taken shelter on Saturday night at Temple Shalom in Naples.

When the storm’s path shifted to the west, Naples was expected to be among the worst-stricken cities in Florida, but it was spared some of the more severe blows. Mr. Love said he had worried that he might not be able to bring home his father, Richard, who is disabled, but a couple that he befriended at the shelter volunteered their pickup truck to help.

“I was thinking we were going to come back and it was going to be gone,” Mr. Love said of his new home. “This is the best I could hope for, for this category of hurricane.”

Power losses appeared to be the state’s most widespread affliction. In news conferences up and down the state, mayors and utility executives delivered the dispiriting statistics: In densely populated Pinellas County west of Tampa, about 70 percent of Duke Energy’s customers, or 395,000 people, were without electricity, with no immediate restoration in sight. Mayor Tomás Regalado of Miami said a similar fraction of his city was dark, with roads left impassable and traffic lights not working. In Orlando, about half the city’s utility customers had no service.

At the White House, Thomas P. Bossert, the president’s Homeland Security adviser, said repairing the electrical system would require “the largest-ever mobilization of line restoration workers in this country, period.”

Medical facilities and nursing homes reported struggles with power supplies. Though utility companies make restoring service to hospitals a priority, some were still lacking normal service on Monday. As of Monday night, 36 Florida hospitals were closed, and 54 were operating on backup generators, according to data from the Florida Department of Health.


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