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Many still without power after Tropical Storm Debby

Flooding from Tropical Storm Debby has made things difficult for electric companies fighting to restore power to thousands of customers.

About 1,000 Progress Energy customers remained powerless early today in areas most affected by the storm, largely in Pasco County. More than 120 Tampa Electric Co. customers were without power, but officials said those outages were not a direct result of the storm.

Repair crews from both companies were dispatched throughout the Tampa Bay area Thursday in an effort to restore power to all customers, officials said.

Debby's four-day assault on the Tampa Bay area posed several problems for energy companies, including standing water and strong winds, which can prevent crews from working.

A unique concern was how much of the Tampa Bay region was effected.

The outages were so scattered, officials said, getting to all of them proved difficult for restoration crews, which had been bolstered by more than 1,000 contractors and workers from other utility companies.

"Typically when we restore power after an event like this, we prioritize repairs by what would impact the most customers and take the shortest amount of time," TECO Energy spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said. "But with Debby, there were lots of little outages all over the place, which taxes our resources and is much more labor intensive for our crews."

More than 80,000 Tampa Electric customers lost power during the storm, with a peak of 20,000 outages at one time. By Tuesday night, Jacobs said, all of them were back online.

Progress Energy dealt with more than three times that amount: 281,000 outages, of which 98 percent had been repaired by Wednesday afternoon, according to a news release.

In some areas, the power was turned off on purpose.

Pasco County officials asked Progress Energy to discontinue services to the Seven Springs area when it was evacuated due to extreme flooding.

It's possible more outages will happen over the next several days as communities begin to pick up the pieces in Debby's wake, Jacobs said.

Any Progress Energy customers still without power Thursday should report their outage by calling toll-free 1-800-228-8485. Any Tampa Electric customers without power may call toll-free 1-877-588-1010 to file a report.

Many still without power after Tropical Storm Debby 06/28/12 [Last modified: Thursday, June 28, 2012 5:01pm]

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