by: WFTV Staff, Michael Lopardi Updated:
Around 6.2 million customers were without power in Florida Sunday night as Hurricane Irma worked its way up the state's west coast.
The largest number of customers without power, more than 3.3 million, were with Florida Power and Light.
Duke Energy reported more than 1.2 million customers were without power and Tampa Electric reported about 328,000 customers in the dark.
>>Scroll for outage maps<<
The number of customers without power jumped by more than 400,000 in 15 minutes between 9:30 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Sunday.
Residents should expect numerous toppled trees and widespread power outages, certified Meteorologist Brian Shields said.
As power is turned back on, officials warn that people may see sparks and small fires from lines that were damaged but not quite downed. They urge residents to call the power company if they see this and report it.
Orlando Utility Commission officials said 60 percent of their customers are without power.
Officials urge residents who see a noticeable drop in their water pressure to boil their water, since crews are still assessing the full extent of damage to water mains.
The utility has 450 linemen and 250 tree trimmers coming from other states.
“Throughout the next few days, you’re going to see bucket trucks from all over the country descending here in Central Florida,” said OUC spokesperson Tim Trudell.
Customers should report outages to 407-423-9018 or click here.
Florida Power and Light released the following statement:
FPL anticipates widespread destruction throughout its service area with significant impacts to the most densely populated areas.
FPL has more than 16,000 workers from nearly 30 states, including as far away as California, dedicated to planning and preparing to respond to Hurricane Irma. Because the track of this storm is unclear, many utilities along the East Coast and Gulf Coast are holding onto their crews until they know what is headed their way.
FPL has activated more than 20 staging sites throughout the service area, where restoration crews, trucks and equipment are being stationed.
In Volusia County, the initial staging site is the Daytona International Speedway.
Latest FPL outage numbers:
FPL’s goal is to continue providing customers with power through the storm, until it’s no longer possible to do so. FPL has no plans to shut down power to its customers.
FPL expects 3.4 million customers may lose power as a result of Irma and could experience prolonged outages, based on the current forecast.
FPL’s nuclear power plants are prepared for hurricanes. Finalized plans are in place to safely shut down nuclear plants well in advance of Irma’s impacts, and FPL will let customers know when they are shut down.
“FPL has built the most sophisticated and strongest power grid in the nation. Our goal is to continue providing our customers power now and during the storm. To be clear, FPL has no plans to shut down power to its customers. In fact, we have adequate power to continue serving all customers. After the storm hits, our crews will begin working to restore power as soon as conditions are safe. Once restoration begins in earnest, our goal is to get as many customers up and running as soon as possible and we will not stop until all power is restored.”
SECO Energy released the following statement:
"Tropical storm winds will likely affect SECO's area before the storm makes landfall in south Florida on Sunday. Bucket trucks cannot operate in high wind conditions. When winds exceed 35 mph, restoration efforts are curtailed due to safety. It is possible with the hurricane timing and intensity that SECO won't be able to conduct restoration activity beginning Saturday night until winds subside on Monday. SECO members should expect power to be off for an extended period of time due to hurricane-force winds."
Duke Energy officials are urging residents to report outages while crews commence damage assessments.
Duke Energy Florida is mobilizing approximately 7,000 line workers, tree professionals, and damage assessment and support personnel to safe locations where they are prepared to respond to outages once Hurricane Irma reaches Florida.
Assistance from across the United States and Canada, including company resources from the Midwest, is on the way to assist with restoration efforts. Crews and equipment will be staged close to Florida on Saturday and Sunday. The staging area affords rapid response but provides enough distance to ensure the safety of crews and resources.
Duke Energy - through the Southeastern Electric Exchange, a mutual assistance organization - has agreements with other utilities and contract companies to ensure the necessary resources can be brought to Florida from throughout the Southeast.
"Due to the tremendous size and strength of the hurricane, our No. 1 concern is the safety of our customers and crews," said Luis Ordaz, Duke Energy Florida storm director. "Hurricane Irma is a major storm capable of causing significant damage. As we prepare to respond, it's important our customers take Hurricane Irma seriously and ensure their families are safe."
In addition to making safety a priority, customers should also prepare for significant, widespread power outages.
The Customer Service Center is available Monday-Friday from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. excluding holidays to respond to online requests. If you need immediate attention, please call 407-933-9800 24-hours a day.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.