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Officials: Half of Florida lacks power

Eric Silagy, the president and CEO of Florida Power and Light, said he believes half of Florida is out of power.

“More than half of the population of Florida is out of power would be my guess,” he said at a news conference Monday morning. Anywhere from 8.5 to 9 million people were affected by the company’s outages – and while it is the state’s largest power supplier, it is not the only one.

According to power outage data tweeted by the Florida Division of Emergency Management at noon, two-thirds of customers across the state are without power – just under 10 million accounts.  In St. John’s County, which includes St. Augustine, 100 percent of customers have outages. About three-quarters of customers in Miami-Dade are without power, as are 96 percent of customers in Collier County, which includes Naples.

Silagy said 4.2 million Florida Power and Light accounts were impacted; the utility’s website said it has about 4.9 million total customer accounts.

“We’ve never had that many outages. I don’t think any utility in the country has,” Silagy said.

And it might take a very long time for some people to get their power back.

“People could be out of power for weeks,” he said. “It absolutely could be weeks if we have to rebuild parts of the system.”

Silagy said some customers had service restored, only to lose it again. The utility has not been able to get crews out in northern Florida because the storm is still raging.

“Irma hasn’t left,” he said.

The utility’s two nuclear plants are safe and secure, he said, and the utility is in the process of doing final checks on them.

At least 19,500 employees are fanning out across Florida to restore power, he said. The utility is also trying to secure more line and vegetation crews from out of state. Some crews, he said, are coming straight from restoring power in Texas. Because of the storm’s size, crews were not able to start restoration efforts until late last night, and they are still not able to move across northern Florida.

He also said debris is strewn throughout the state.

“This is a storm that has probably produced more debris than we’ve ever seen in the history of storms,” he said. “We’ve had 10 years of growth that got pruned yesterday from Hurricane Irma and unfortunately a lot of that ended up on our power lines.”

Hurricane Irma: Storm moves north after pounding Florida
Heavy winds and rain are seen in Miami on Sunday. (Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

Irma, the record-setting hurricane that devastated islands across the Caribbean, has been churning north through Florida — and has turned its sights on Georgia.

Visit the Capital Weather Gang’s live updates page for more on the storm.