ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman said Tuesday the city was doing everything it could to restore a sense or normalcy to the nearly 100,000 residents still without power after Hurricane Irma.
Just because the Sunshine City didn’t experience the destruction experienced by many in southwest Florida, the mayor said, “it doesn’t mean we haven’t been significantly impacted by the storm.”
Kriseman, dressed in a St. Petersburg Fire Rescue polo, stressed that utility crews would restore power without favoring one neighborhood over another. He asked residents to have patience.
A Duke Energy spokesman said the utility hoped to have electricity restored to every resident in Pinellas County by midnight Friday.
The mayor also urged residents who came through the storm relatively intact to share their good fortune with others. He noted speaking with mothers of newborns who lacked the money to buy formula.
The city has also received more than 4,000 calls after the storm, the mayor said, mostly about debris and power outtages.
He asked residents to refrain from calling the city about debris in yards. Instead, they should pile it behind the curb for city crews to collect by the end of next week.
Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin, who accompanied the mayor on his tour Tuesday, said the city will use recreation centers and parks like Dell Homes, which has a splash pad, to help residents cope with the heat and stress.
St. Petersburg police spokeswoman Yolanda Fernandez said the department did not have to evacuate its aging headquarters because of Irma’s high winds but officers are currently coping with not having any air conditioning.
The mayor, Tomalin and Fernandez also reminded residents not to approach downed power lines or touch metal fences that might have voltage from a line outside of sight. They warned against going to sleep with candles burning, which they said has already started some fires around the city.
The mayor said he’ll keep focused on the job ahead: “I’m just focused on keeping everyone safe and getting everything back to normal as quickly as we can.”