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Thursday, Oct 18, 2018
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Nearly 150,000 in Panhandle still without power post-Hurricane Michael

Since Hurricane Michael’s exit from Florida, utilities in the Panhandle have been working to restore power to parts affected by the devastating Category 4 storm. As of late Thursday afternoon, roughly 140,000 remained without power in the Panhandle.

Gulf Power, which serves much of the Panhandle, showed just over 111,000 without power on its outages map. Duke Energy Florida, which also serves some of the area, showed about 29,500 without power in its total service area, the vast majority of which was in the Panhandle.

And the situation could worsen as Hurricane Michael makes its way up the coast. Its North Carolina-based parent company, Duke Energy, said Thursday that power outages could be even greater in the Carolinas — between 300,000 and 500,000 outages.

The New York Times reported Thursday that more than 1.1 million homes and businesses across the affected states did not have power.

And it may take some time for some of them to get it back. In a release Wednesday, Gulf Power said restoring power could take weeks.

"Northwest Florida has never encountered a storm of this magnitude," said Jeff Rogers, Gulf Power spokesperson.

Utilities from Florida and neighboring states are combining forces for the restoration effort. Tampa Electric Co. deployed crews early Thursday morning — 285 linemen and contractors — to assist Gulf Power Co. and the city of Tallahassee in restoring power.

The utility’s sister company, Peoples Gas, has a Panama City office that will receive assistance from Peoples Gas crews around the state that headed to the Panhandle early Thursday, according to Tampa Electric spokeswoman Sylvia Vega.

"As soon as they can, they are working on damage assessment," she said.

Duke Energy Florida’s parent company, Duke Energy, sent 7,000 crew members to the area in anticipation of the storm, including crews from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and other parts of Florida.

Utilities in Texas, Missouri, Illinois, Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi also contributed crews to assist North Florida.

"Restoring power after a storm can be extremely challenging for repair crews, as travel and work conditions can be impacted by high winds and widespread flooding — making repair work lengthy and difficult," Duke Energy Florida spokeswoman Peveeta Persaud said in a statement Wednesday.

Many areas are still closed off by emergency responders, preventing early damage assessments.

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Contact Malena Carollo at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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