Gulf Power Company estimates that power will be restored to 95 percent of the 242,000 customers who lost power during Hurricane Dennis within a week, if the weather cooperates. The estimate excludes Santa Rosa Island.
More than 17,000 customers were expected to be restored by 9 p.m. Monday night.
“Today was a good day in that we were able to complete our damage assessment and begin turning on some lights,” Lynn Erickson, Gulf Power spokesperson said. “We still have quite a challenge ahead of us.”
Gulf Power has restored electricity to most critical customers such as hospitals, sewer systems and other emergency facilities. The company has restored almost half of the transmission lines knocked out by Dennis, 27 of the 47 substations out of service have been restored and of the 147 main feeders out, about one third are back on line.
Helicopters and airplanes were launched for company workers to complete the comprehensive damage assessment necessary to begin the restoration process in earnest. Also, about 2,000 outside workers arrived today and began work with an additional 1,300 crews arriving for work on Tuesday.
“Our crews are working as hard and as safely as they can to get the system back working,” Erickson said. “Dennis was a major storm and it’s going to take a while to get things back to normal. We ask our customers to please continue to be patient.”
Gulf Power crews will report in specific outage numbers during the evening and a county-by county breakdown will be available in the morning.
Essential tips for customers:
As power begins to return, customers are urged to avoid touching downed power lines and electrical equipment in case they have been re-energized.
Do not connect portable generators to your household electrical wiring. This can cause serious injury to you and to Gulf Power employees working on the lines in your neighborhood. Connect only essential appliances, such as freezers and refrigerators, directly to the generator.
If your power is off, turn off large appliances and air conditioners and wait 10 to 15 minutes after power has been restored before turning them back on.
To report power outages: 1-800-GU-POWER (487-6937)