FPL customers and employees share their emotional stories leading up to Hurricane Irma and during the restoration period.
Last month, Hurricane Irma, one of the largest and most powerful storms to ever hit Florida, slowly made its way up through the state over the course of nearly two days – pummeling nearly every county with hurricane and tropical storm-force winds, tornadoes and storm surge. Irma left substantial damage in her wake, including extensive flooding in some areas, widespread damage from fallen trees and debris, and power outages for millions of Floridians. But together, we are ensuring that Florida comes back stronger than ever.
So many have played important roles in our state’s preparation and response efforts that it is impossible to recognize them all. Governor Rick Scott has been a tremendous leader from the beginning, bringing everyone together before and after the storm and ensuring we were all focused on getting Florida back on her feet, in lock step every step of the way. Another critical partner is the network of first responders from the local, state and even federal level that have been working night and day to keep our communities safe. These fearless men and women who manned their posts throughout the storm have been essential to restoration efforts across Florida, including search and rescue efforts, escorting vital response vehicles such as fuel tankers and utility trucks and responding to fires and other emergencies.
It’s also been heartening to see the cooperation among the electric utilities as we work together to restore power to more than six million customers. There are 55 electric utilities in Florida, and nearly every one was impacted by Irma – that’s unprecedented in our state’s history. Every one of the 35 counties served by Florida Power & Light Company was affected; in fact, 90 percent of our customers lost power. Many of our sister utilities experienced similar challenges and harsh conditions, and we all worked around the clock to restore power to the vast majority of Floridians within one week of Irma’s passing. It has been a massive restoration effort, but we have been able to call on each other for help. Whether it’s sending truckloads of power poles to help the Florida Keys get up and running; providing copper wiring or other materials that are in short supply; sharing drones and equipment to help complete damage assessments in inaccessible areas; or even sending crews of restoration workers to help support another utility; together, Florida’s electric utilities worked together to help our customers’ lives return to normal.
I want to offer my gratitude and sincerest thanks to our restoration workforce of more than 28,000, our own FPL employees as well as many others who joined us from outside of Florida before the storm even hit so that they could get to work as soon as it was safe to do so. Most of these men and women left their homes and families to work tirelessly each and every day to restore power to FPL’s more than 4.4 million customers impacted by Irma within 10 days. Our thanks is never enough – without all of you, this monumental restoration effort would never have been possible.
Finally, I want to thank our customers for their patience; we live and work here too, and understand how frustrating it is to be without power. While this was the fastest restoration of the largest number of people by any one utility in U.S. history, we are not perfect, and we will continue to make improvements and incorporate lessons learned so that we are even better prepared for the next hurricane. For example, we understand that what our customers want to know more than anything else is when will their power come back on. Unfortunately we were not able to accurately and consistently provide the kind of useful and detailed restoration estimates that our customers have come to expect from us year-round. We are going to get better and we’re already working on it.
We’re still in the heart of hurricane season, but rest assured that FPL is dedicated to its customers and we are ready to respond, regardless of what comes our way.
President and CEO
Florida Power & Light Company