More than three days after the full brunt of Irma was felt in St. Johns County, 36,000 customers were still without power by Wednesday afternoon.
According to Florida Power & Light, out of a total of 86,800 customers the utility company serves across the county, 84,950 had been affected by the storm.
FPL crews on Wednesday had successfully reinstated power to 48,950 households, businesses, municipal agencies and community services.
According to Tyler Mauldin, a spokesperson with FPL, the company aimed for 100 percent restoration by the end of the day on Sunday at the latest — “and very likely, much sooner.”
“Our guys are out there working around the clock to make sure we get everybody back online just as soon as possible,” Mauldin said.
By comparison, just 850 households in St. Johns County remained without power two days after Hurricane Matthew.
The challenge with Irma was that the storm impacted such a wide swath of the state, including 35 of the counties that Florida Power & Light covers. In addition, with the hurricane carrying such high winds this time around, there are more downed trees and utility lines affecting power repairs.
Mauldin said some of the county’s larger neighborhoods had lights and electricity turned back on, while some smaller ones were still without. In other cases, one household could have power while another one just blocks away might not. Mauldin could not specify which areas in St. Johns County were still waiting to have the switch turned on at this point.
More than 21,000 workers around the state had been putting in 16-hour shifts in the field as soon as it was safe to do so.
“Hurricane Irma didn’t leave the state until early Monday, and then we had to wait until winds were under 35 mph,” Mauldin said.
Priority is given, Mauldin said, to critical facilities such as hospitals, law enforcement agencies, major thoroughfares, gas stations and grocery stores. From there, crews focus on the areas hardest hit by the storm as well as larger connected neighborhoods “where one flip of a breaker can turn it all on at once.”
While it may be difficult to sweat it out with no air-conditioning, refrigeration, lights or entertainment, Mauldin said the public should know that field workers were moving as swiftly as they could through the area.
“Just because you don’t see a crew near you doesn’t mean they are not working,” Mauldin said. “They may be working on a road a couple of miles away where the issue is.”
FPL estimates that nearly 60 percent of customers impacted by Irma statewide had their power turned back on by Wednesday.
The Juno Beach, Florida-based power utility company serves roughly 4.8 million accounts and 10 million people across the state.