Powerless to do Anything but Wait, Half of South Florida Copes Without Electricity

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(SS) Power to all but the unluckiest few will be restored by the time the weekend is over. Florida Power & Light made the bold promise Tuesday morning, leaving enough wiggle room to concede it may take a little longer for homes and businesses affected by tornadoes, flooding and other “severe damage.”

While pointing out that 2.3 million out of 5 million outages have already been restored by a force of 20,000 workers operating throughout the state, FPL spokesman Rob Gould said officials are aware how difficult it is for those who remain without power.

“We understand what it means to be in the dark, what it means to be hot and without air conditioning,” he said. “We want to get the lights back on as fast as possible.”

For more than half of South Florida, coping without power for a third straight day posed challenges ranging from trying to keep kids entertained without electronics to more dire risks associated with routine medical treatment intended to avoid emergencies.

If they could, they sought refuge at the beach, in bars and shopping plazas — or just in the shade.

At the Praxis apartment complex in Deerfield Beach, Nancy Biglin, 83, and her 14-year-old pug Tootsie struggled to climb the stairs to Biglin’s fourth-floor apartment.

The elevator wasn’t working because the power still was out. Praxis, a 55-plus complex, has no back-up generator, despite the fact that many of its residents are disabled, infirm and on limited incomes.

The smelly concrete stairwell, with missing windows that had let in Irma’s rains, was stifling. Biglin and Tootsie both had to stop at every landing.

“It’s going to kill my dog, going up and down the stairs,” said Biglin, breathing heavily. She has had heart surgery and walking is difficult. She and other residents were flattened when they heard FPL had said Sunday was the target date for full power restoration.

“We can’t wait until then,” said Biglin. “We’ll all be dead.”

The concern was similar at Century Village in Pembroke Pines.

“There’s no water for quite a while and no air-conditioning,” said resident Seymour Blyman, 90. “There’s some very old people, including myself, who can hardly breathe in the apartments here.”

Blyman said he was reluctant to call for medical emergency assistance and hoped that FPL’s restoration priority list would deliver relief soon to the retirement community.

“They have a priority for hospitals first. These people in Century Village should be right after the hospitals,” he said. “I’m very weak, very tired. I can’t wait to get back to myself, and I don’t want to go to the hospital. If I get some air I’ll feel better.”

Non-emergency medical calls should be directed at 311, said Candy Sims, spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Health in Broward County.


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