Over 2 million Florida residents left without power as Hurricane Ian ravages coast

Power outage – Power outages due to Hurricane Ian affect FL residents – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by: Memory Stockphoto

Hurricane Ian hit Florida so hard that its winds were just a few miles per hour short of developing into a Category 5 storm as it made landfall in the Sunshine State on Wednesday. Not only did the storm come in full force, but it didn’t take long for it to unleash its wrath on power grids throughout Florida.

By midday on Wednesday, Ian began moving onshore at Captiva and Sanibel islands. According to tracking on PowerOutage.us, approximately 660,000 Florida residents were out of power before 2:30 p.m. ET. Just two hours later, the total surpassed 1 million outages. Now, the number has surged once again, increasing the total number of people without electricity to 2 million.

So far, Southwest Florida has faced the brunt of the impact. Nearly all residents in several counties, including Lee, DeSoto, and Charlotte, are out of power as of Wednesday evening. According to PowerOutage.us, at least half of the residents in several neighboring counties, including Sarasota, Manatee, Collier, Glades, and Highlands, are out of power. 

Outage reports continue to further extend along Florida’s Gulf Coast, with the largest disruptions going as far north as Citrus County. Smaller disruptions continue to pop up throughout the Panhandle. 

Outages are also occurring in certain areas along Florida’s eastern coast. Despite being severely affected by power outages, Miami-Dade has steadily had restorations all day. Additionally, there are outages farther inland, and they have been found in every county along the state’s east coast.

Florida officials have been issuing warnings about possible power problems for days. Even though some regions of the island have already had their power restored, Ian has remained persistent in its pursuit, cutting off electricity to the whole island of Cuba on Tuesday. 

Prior to making landfall, the National Weather Service issued a warning that Hurricane Ian would cause “catastrophic” wind damage in southwest Florida. The storm will travel the entire length of the state in 24 hours after the eye makes landfall, according to the service’s director, Ken Graham, who stated this during a press conference on Wednesday.

“This is going to be a storm that we talk about for many years to come,” he said.

The Sunshine State’s main provider of the homes reporting outages, Florida Power & Light (FPL), sent out a tweet on Wednesday stating that the company is expecting “widespread, extended” outages. Of its 5.7 million tracked customers, more than 1 million have reportedly lost power based on PowerOutage.us data.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said Wednesday that there are over 30,000 linemen “staged and ready” to get on the ball in restoring power when it’s safe to do so. Later in the day, Governor Ron DeSantis increased that number to 42,000. 

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