Where is my power? Frustration grows on why some have it and others don’t

An FPL-contracted worker reconnects a main power line on Collins Avenue on Sunny Isles Beach on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 in Sunny Isles Beach. David Santiago dsantiago@elnuevoherald.com

For O.J. Callahan, the power outage is not just making him and his Miami Gardens neighbors uncomfortably hot, it’s a safety issue.

Callahan says he and his neighbor have been reporting a downed power line in his neighbor’s backyard since Sunday, which apparently was downed by a toppling avocado tree that is now blocking access to the neighbor’s house, too. Callahan’s entire block lost power, where many elderly, including his 75-year-old mother, live, at 2 p.m. Sunday, he said. FPL has yet to respond.

“People’s health are at risk here,” Callahan said. “We need a better response from FPL than ‘we have no estimated time.’ Until someone is electrocuted?”

He said he was alerted by FPL that a crew was on the way and had even arrived. But it never came. “Where are all the trucks?” he said. “We haven’t seen any in Miami Gardens.”

Callahan was asked by FPL to reenter his outage information, which apparently started the process again. He was happy to hear that a colleague in Aventura got power restored but can’t help but wonder if there’s pecking order because it’s a wealthier community.

Callahan is far from alone in his frustration with mixed messages and broken promises from FPL, including a website and app that isn’t always working. Customers across South Florida have been taking to Twitter to vent their frustrations as power outages are now entering a fourth day without electricity.

powerlineOJCALLAHAN
O.J. Callahan of Miami Gardens says a power line has been down in his neighbor’s yard since Sunday. He and his neighbor have reported it multiple times, he said.
O.J. Callahan

The good news: In South Florida, about 300,000 households saw their power restored overnight. FPL CEO Eric Silagy said on Tuesday that all or nearly all power should be restored on the east coast of Florida, including Miami-Dade, by the end of the weekend.

As of 9 a.m. Wednesday in Miami-Dade, 442,630 customers had outages out of 1.1 million customers in total, according to FPL. In Broward, 311,700 had no power out of 933,300, and in Palm Beach 260,720 of 739,000 were out. That’s about 1 million homes and businesses without power, more than a third of FPL’s customers in the tri-county area.

To be sure, massive power outages are statewide, involving regions served by a number of utilities. As of 6 a.m.Wednesday, 3.9 million homes and businesses remained without power statewide, more than 37 percent of the 10.5 million electric accounts in Florida. That’s down about 2.8 million, though, from the peak outage reported by the state of more than 6.7 million accounts out as of 4:40 p.m. Monday – 64.2 percent of the state.

Along with outage information, FPL posted on its website: “Communication systems across Florida were impacted by Irma, causing issues with our systems. If our system displays you have power and you don’t, please report it. We apologize for any issues you may experience.”

FPL spokesman Bill Orlove said that because of extraordinary traffic, its website have been temporarily down. He said customers can reach FPL by calling 1-800-4OUTAGE. But he also said people should only report an outage if their neighbors have power but they do not. “We know where the outages are and are restoring service safely and as quickly as possible,” he said.

Carlos Alex Rodriguez said he has called FPL to report his outage on NE 3rd Avenue and North Miami Beach five times now and will call again Wednesday morning. He said all his neighbors have power and his home does not.

With elderly parents and nine of his brother’s children living under his roof, he said, “I feel like the world has ended. I don’t know what to do.”

Follow @ndahlberg on Twitter.

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