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Josh Solomon, Times Staff Writer

Josh Solomon

Josh Solomon covers the police and court beats in Pasco and Hernando counties for the Tampa Bay Times.

Before joining the Times in 2014, Josh graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He grew up in northern New Jersey.

Phone: (813) 909-4613

Email: jsolomon@tampabay.com

Twitter: @josh_solomon15

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  1. Duke Energy Florida president answers questions about utility's response to Irma

    Hurricanes

    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than a week since Hurricane Irma knocked out power to millions of Floridians, Duke Energy announced it will finish its restoration efforts Tuesday.

    Duke Energy Florida's president Harry Sideris apologized for power not being restored sooner, but said Irma did more damage than his analysts predicted. The utility planned for 1 million of its Florida customers to lose power, but the number was closer to 1.3 million....

    Yard waste from Hurricane Irma is dumped in a Florida Department of Transportation yard next to Maximo Park in St. Petersburg. The waste is from St. Petersburg residents' yards and will be mulched and sold to a local tomato farmer. St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris held a news conference at the site to talk about Hurricane Irma recovery and what they learned from the process. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. Pasco, Pinellas and Hillsborough power outages nearly all restored a week after Irma

    Energy

    More than a week after Hurricane Irma knocked out power to millions of Floridians, about 300,000 customers across the state were still in the dark Monday evening.

    But most in the Tampa Bay area could flick their lights on.

    Duke Energy reported that more than 99 percent of outages were restored in a dozen counties across the state, including in Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough. The utility said about 2,549 customers in Pinellas and 280 customers in Pasco — where Duke is the largest provider of electricity — remained without power Monday, though some outages were unrelated to Irma....

    A lineman works to get power back to a neighborhood in Clearwater on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2017. [LARA CERRI | Times]
  3. Hillsborough deputy and family lose home, pets in Lithia house fire

    Fire

    LITHIA — A house belonging to a Hillsborough County sheriff's deputy and his family caught fire Friday afternoon, killing the family's two dogs and cat, authorities said.

    By the time Hillsborough County Fire Rescue crews responded to the home in the 19000 block of Boyette Road about 12:45 p.m., firefighters said a column of smoke could already be seen from a distance away.

    The deputy was not identified. Neighbors told crews the house was unoccupied except for the family's pets. Crews were able to rescue the family's bunny....

  4. Thousands fume as Duke Energy misses deadline to restore power

    Hurricanes

    Like the heat, John Johnson's anger has built all week.

    For days, he has sweated through Hurricane Irma's aftermath. He lost power at 8 p.m. Sunday. He has heard the repeated vow from Duke Energy that they'd have electricity back for hundreds of thousands of Pinellas customers like him by midnight Friday. He has watched power trucks roll by his street.

    But Friday afternoon, Johnson was still in the dark. He has sat in his sweltering home in Largo with five dogs, for five days now, stewing....

    A lineman works to get power back to a neighborhood in Clearwater on Wednesday. About 60,000 Duke customers in Pinellas County remained powerless at 9:24 p.m. Friday, according to state data. Across Tampa Bay, electricity was out for 112,543 customers, part of the 1.4 million Floridians still without power after Irma made landfall. [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  5. In the Keys, the world turned upside down

    Hurricanes

    ISLAMORADA — Bill Quinn stood shirtless Tuesday morning on the blue concrete slab where his house used to be, surveying the damage.

    His was the closest lot to the Atlantic Ocean in the Seabreeze mobile home park, south of U.S. 1 in Islamorada.

    The frame to his single-wide mobile home lay adjacent to the slab, exactly parallel, as if neatly placed. The rest of the home, though, was all over, strewn by Hurricane Irma....

    A U.S. Customs and Border Protection helicopter takes off from the middle of a U.S. 1 bridge near Long Key on Tuesday. The agency was dealing with port operations following Hurricane Irma.
  6. When Irma hit Marco Island, it absorbed the punch. A few miles away things were different

    Hurricanes

    MARCO ISLAND — Day broke Monday over this wealthy resort town in southern Collier County with a surprising bit of good news.

    Even after a direct hit from a Category 3 hurricane, Marco Island was still mostly standing.

    Here, Martin Pilote was able to ride out the storm in his two-story waterfront house, putting up the shutters and listening to the wind whistle by.

    It was a different story just across the bridge in mainland Collier County....

    Sonia de Jara cleans the kitchen of her family's badly damaged trailer following Hurricane Irma in southern Collier County on Monday. The Jaras headed to a family member's home for the night after hours spent cleaning up. Irma made landfall in the area as a category 3 hurricane the prior day. (LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times)
  7. In Naples, an anxious return home to see what Irma left

    Hurricanes

    NAPLES — Charlene Garcia and her boyfriend, Justin Maschue, stopped their Nissan pickup truck at the downed trees.

    LIVE BLOG: The latest on Hurricane Irma

    They were still a quarter mile from their home, unsure of what they'd find when they got there. But with trees covering the roadway, they'd have to walk the rest of the way in a foot of water....

    (From left) Darleen Alaniz, her mother Veronica Soria, her boyfriend Ramiro Gutierrez, and her father Juan Alanis  inspect the damaged homes of friends and family following Hurricane Irma in southern Collier County on Monday. Irma made landfall in the area as a category 3 hurricane the prior day. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  8. Sun rises in Marco Island after Irma's landfall, and it's still standing

    Hurricanes

    MARCO ISLAND — Daybreak Monday revealed what everyone had hoped for: Marco Island largely still stood.

    Save for the palm fronds and occasional trunk that littered the roadway, Hurricane Irma left most of the island intact, despite making landfall here Sunday afternoon as a Category 3 storm.

    Its track meandered from east to west, its wander straddling Miami to Tampa, before settling on the wealthy resort town in southern Collier County...

    Roof damage at the Island Montessori Academy on Marco Island following the landfall of hurricane Irma. [DOUG CLIFFORD | Times]
  9. Charlotte County officials warn of Irma: 'The storm is upon us now'

    News

    PUNTA GORDA — With Hurricane Irma off Florida's southwest coast Sunday — and with Charlotte County in the storm's cross hairs later this afternoon — officials here begged residents who stayed behind to take shelter and assured them community leaders were ready to begin assessment and recovery as soon as it's safe.

    "Get ready, the storm is upon us now," warned County Administrator Ray Sandrock....

    Water was pulled out of Charlotte Harbor on Sunday as Hurricane Irma approached from the south. [Photo courtesy of Christine Lowe]
  10. In Punta Gorda, time to shelter in place

    Hurricanes

    PUNTA GORDA — About 10:15 a.m., officials pulled down the shutter over the front door of the Charlotte County Emergency Operations Center.

    Tropical-storm force winds had arrived, and it was time to shelter in place.

    "For a day, we're not going anywhere," said Charlotte County Fire Chief Bill Van Helden. "We finally came to a place where we're shutting down all fire, EMS and sheriff's office responses."...

    Local authorities meet for a morning briefing to discuss Hurricane Irma in the command room at the Charlotte County emergency operations center in Punta Gorda on Sunday. (LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times)
  11. At this evacuation shelter, a skunk, a goldfish, 149 other pets and a newborn human

    Hurricanes

    PORT CHARLOTTE — The shelter at Kingsway Elementary School in Port Charlotte was a busy place Saturday.

    Outside, Hurricane Irma marched toward Gasparilla Bay. Inside, more than 900 people were stuffed into the cafeteria and hallways, everybody's stuff touching everybody else's stuff.

    To greet each new arrival were the smiling Rick and Jaye Scarberry. They had been designated by shelter manager Trish Sturgess her "upbeat people," there to set the tone for guests as soon as they left the registration table....

    Kingsway Elementary School in Port Charlotte is seen converted to a hurricane shelter in anticipation of Hurricane Irma on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. The shelter had 151 pets checked in by Saturday afternoon. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  12. Scenes from a nervous Southwest Florida

    Hurricanes

    MARCO ISLAND — On a typical Saturday morning, Collier Boulevard, one of the main roads out to the beach, is so busy that Bill and Gena Sullivan can't even back out of their driveway.

    But ahead of Hurricane Irma, the island is deserted, silent save for the swaying palms and speakers on police SUVs warning anyone still there: EVACUATE.

    The Sullivans, married for 40 years, were among the few holdouts. They finished taking in everything from their lanai and prepared to leave Saturday afternoon if the forecast got worse. ...

  13. Bus driver picks up seniors, and their Charley memories, before Irma hits

    Public Safety

    Times Staff Writer

    PUNTA GORDA — Robert Kole says he's "not no hero."

    The 53-year-old Charlotte County bus driver was in his normal bus — a diesel hybrid, the largest bus in the county's fleet, he said — but not on his usual route Saturday.

    Instead he was picking up elderly people and others with special needs who had yet to evacuate before the dreaded arrival of Hurricane Irma on Sunday, taking them to shelters....

    Charlotte County bus driver Robert Kole (left) speaks with local residents Dorothy Munoz (second from left) and Laura Smith (in blue shirt) while driving an evacuation route, picking up special needs and elderly people from their homes, in Punta Gorda, Fla., on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Kole dropped them off at local shelters before seeking refuge for himself.
  14. Hurricane Irma: Evacuations, anxiety as storm edges closer to Tampa Bay

    Hurricanes

    Hurricane Irma continued its ominous march toward Florida on Friday as residents prepared to escape or survive the most powerful Atlantic storm ever recorded.

    LIVE BLOG: The latest on Hurricane Irma

    In Tampa Bay, the wait grew more anxious: The latest forecasts show the monster storm making landfall near Naples on Sunday before making its expected trek up the state, bringing it closer to the bay area....

    (From left) Heather Alama, her husband Adrian Alama, and her father Victor Waddell cover windows with plywood at LaBelle Auction Company in LaBelle, Fla., on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Victor Waddell is a local carpenter, and his daughter and son-in-law drove over from Fort Myers to help him out with work, preparing for Hurricane Irma.
  15. In Hurricane Irma's path: Pitching in to make life in a shelter more bearable in LaBelle

    Hurricanes

    LABELLE — Inside the hurricane shelter at LaBelle High School, Alberto Cabana played a double role.

    He was at once a resident of the shelter, having fled his mobile home with his mom and three younger siblings, at once a volunteer there.

    "If I'm going to stay here I might as well make a positive difference," the 17-year-old said. "I've lived here for 15 years and I feel like giving back to it."...

    Charles Cobb, a Clewiston resident, sits for a portrait outside LaBelle High School, a temporary hurricane shelter, in LaBelle, Fla., on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. The shelter opened Friday morning to house evacuees as Hurricane Irma approached.  [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]