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Irma knocks out power to about 7.3 million: authorities

Irma knocks out power to about 7.3 million: authorities
From Reuters - September 11, 2017

(Reuters) - Hurricane Irma knocked out power to about 7.3 million homes and businesses in the U.S. Southeast, mostly in Florida, according to state officials and local electric utilities.

Irma hit southwest Florida on Sunday morning as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane, the second-highest level on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale. It had weakened to a tropical storm by Monday morning as it headed toward Georgia.

The storm, which was moving into southern Georgia, was packing maximum sustained winds of 60 miles per hour (97 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Centers latest update at 2 p.m. EDT.

Power losses in Georgia, which were nearing 900,000 as of 3 p.m. EDT, were expected to increase as the storm moved north.

In Florida, the states biggest electric company said its outages dipped to 3.5 million from a peak of 3.6 million earlier on Monday. A total of almost 4.5 million Florida Power & Light customers have been affected by the storm, with about 1 million getting service restored, mostly by automated devices.

Weve never had that many outages, and I dont think any utility in the country ever has, FPL Chief Executive Eric Silagy said at a news conference on Monday. It is by far and away the largest in the history of our company.

FPL said it was still assessing the damage and could not yet say when it would restore service to most customers. Some homes and businesses could be without power for weeks, especially in the hardest-hit areas like southwest Florida, the NextEra Energy Inc unit said.

As the storm pushed north, outage figures were increasing at other large utilities, including units of Duke Energy Corp, Southern Co and Emera Inc.

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