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Irma Squalls Knocking Out Power, Damaging Homes In South Florida

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As squally weather and the outer bands of Hurricane Irma whip South Florida, a number of power outages and damaged homes have been reported.

At 10:55 p.m., the Florida Power & Light outage map indicated there were 109,320 outages in Miami-Dade, 49,210 in Broward and 70 in Monroe. Call FPL if you have no power at 1-800-4OUTAGE.

About 15 to 20 residents in Miramar have called in to report damage to homes. The severity is unknown at this time.

And a handful of trees were down near the Homestead Miami Speedway where tornado activity could be seen on radar.

MORE: Latest Hurricane Irma Updates

FPL estimated that more than 3 million customers will be affected by power outages during Hurricane Irma.

FPL spokeswoman Florencia Contesse said they are ready for whatever Irma brings. She said they train year round for something like this and have prepositioned crews and equipment.

“We’ve set up more than 20 staging sites across the state. These essentially serve as mini-cities where we have our workers, our equipment, our trucks, so we can quickly get out into the community and restore service,” said Contesse.

She added that linemen from across the country have been brought in to help and the currently have an army of 16,000 workers ready to go.

In Lake City, the company’s fleet of utility vehicles were ready to go.

So what are safe conditions for the linemen to get to work?

“We need to make sure the wind doesn’t pick up above 35 mph sustained. We want to make sure our crews are safe and we want our customers to be safe as well. After the storm our first instinct is to go outside, we want some fresh air. They just need to be very careful of any hazardous conditions. If they see a powerline down, they should absolutely report it to 9-1-1 or FPL.”

While FPL will be working around the clock, before and after the worst of the storm, and this will likely to be a multi-week restoration.

“We’ve seen the outer bands start affecting us. Our restoration workers are already restoring service to any customers who have lost their service and we’re going to continue to do that as long as it is safe to do so,” said Contesse. “And certainly after the storm, as soon as it is safe to do so, we’re gonna get the lights back on.”

So how does FPL prioritize who gets back online first?

“We are very strategic and deliberate about that. The first thing is to get up our critical infrastructure, you know, our hospitals, emergency stations, the police and so forth. Once we get that taken care of we make sure that mainlines at gas stations, or certain gas stations, that we have to get back up so that people can travel and get their basic needs. And, of course, the grocery stores as well.” Regional Manager Juliet Roulhac. “But then we definitely go to those grids where we are able to get the largest number on the fastest. So we go large to small until we get right down to the end.

Florida’s two nuclear power plants, Turkey Point near Homestead and St. Lucie nuclear power plant will be shutdown when winds reach category 1 strength. According to the State Emergency Operations Center, FPL will be begin powering down Turkey Point Nuclear Plant at midnight tonight.

Once the nuclear plants are shutdown, other non-nuclear plants, fossil and natural gas, are expected to generate enough to power to make up for losses unless they are severely damaged by the storm.

FPL said it invested about $3 billion to fortify its electrical grid in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana.

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