Sunday, July 22, 2018
News Roundup

How many are still without power? Depends on where you look.

As customers wait for their power to be restored, the exact number of those left without power depends on where you're looking for information.

Once Florida power companies restore service to all but 2 percent of customers in a county, they no longer have to report numbers to the state, a threshold set by the Florida State Emergency Operations Center.

The result could be a discrepancy in reported numbers.

As of Sunday afternoon at 6 p.m., the latest report from the Florida Division of Emergency Management reported 100 percent of Hillsborough County residents as having power restored, despite a map from Tampa Electric showing there are still about 500 customers still without power. Tampa Electric is the main provider in Hillsborough County.

Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs wrote in an email that regulations by the EOC allow power companies to stop reporting to the state once 2 percent of customers are without power, but it is still tracking the outages on its website. Jacobs said the company's customers are "99 percent restored."

"We do in fact have a small number of outages," Jacobs said, adding that the map on the company's website is the most accurate number.

According to the state's power outage chart, Pasco County has 99 percent of residents with restored power, while also reporting 1,574 customers are without power.

In Pinellas County, Duke Energy, the main provider, said at noon Sunday that 14,088 customers were still waiting for power to be restored. But in the state's 6 p.m. report, that number had jumped to 23,311.

In a statement Sunday evening, Duke Energy spokeswoman Ana Gibbs said the company has "been hampered by IT systems issues, forcing us to manually track outage reports and repairs, and that has made it more difficult to provide precise outage numbers and restoration times."

Lisa Hutchinson, 52, said her frustration over not having power since 3:45 p.m. Sept. 10 is exacerbated by not knowing how long her electricity will be out.

The Largo resident called Duke Energy multiple times, then created a Twitter account to contact representatives. First she heard the lights would come back Friday. Then it was Saturday.

"If I could get a straight answer about when my power would be back on, I wouldn't be so upset," she said.

Doug Circle, a 40-year-old St. Petersburg resident, finally regained power at his 54th Avenue N house late Sunday afternoon.

Like Hutchinson, the information about his situation kept changing.

"I got the Friday midnight deadline. I got the Saturday midnight deadline," he said.

The worst was hearing from so many others more fortunate, he said.

"Every one of your friends and relatives keeps texting you, 'I got power, I got power.' "

He said he was fed up with Duke's customer service but doesn't have a choice whether to use the company or not.

Circle now plans to buy dinner for the friends who put him up this week.

As for Hutchinson, as soon as she can, she'll take a hot shower and crank her air conditioning.

"Put it down as low as I can and just breathe."

But for now, it's a waiting game.

Contact Melissa Gomez at [email protected] Follow @melissagomez004. Contact Langston Taylor at [email protected] Follow @LangstonITaylor.

   
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