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No Calm After Storm As Gables Commissioners Move Ahead With Legal Action Against FPL

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CORAL GABLES (CBSMiami) – There has been no calm after the storm in Coral Gables, among other South Florida cities, outraged that most customers lost power to Irma, which brought sustained tropical storm force winds to the southeast coast.

On Tuesday afternoon, the National Weather Service released data indicating some places in North Miami-Dade and Broward did experience sustained category 1 hurricane-force winds. Sustained winds are considered to be a minute or longer.

Gables commissioners reinforced their determination Tuesday to move ahead with legal action to force Florida Power & Light to do better.

“The resolve is strong. We continue to believe that there needs to be better infrastructure and better preparation by FPL,” said Gables City Attorney Craig Leen.

An attorney for FPL, Alvin Davis, sent Coral Gables a letter last night, saying the city is “uninformed,” that the Gables and no other city can tell FPL what to do, and called the threat of a lawsuit “a wholly gratuitous distraction.”

Leen responded, saying, in part, “I am hopeful that we can find a way forward where FPL will meet with the City in an effort to resolve the issues the City is concerned about for itself and communities throughout South Florida.”

The company, citing pending litigation, has declined to comment beyond its original statement slamming the city.

The city, at Tuesday’s meeting, presented photographs of what it calls FPL’s decrepit, ancient power grid.

“We have been neglected by FPL. Our transformers, most of our transformers, are 60 years old,” said Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli. “There are polls, termite-ridden polls, that should have been replaced many years ago,” the mayor said.

The Gables is considering burying power lines, an expensive proposition that FPL, by law, would not have to pay for. Despite FPL’s denials, the Gables insists power was lost, or turned off, before Irma got here.

“The hurricane arrived on Saturday. I lost power Friday morning, the day before. To me that is absolutely unacceptable,” said Commissioner Vince Lago.

Something has to change dramatically the city says.

“There was a tremendous amount of loss of power related to a tropical storm,” said Commissioner Patricia Keon.

Imagine what would have happened, she said, if Irma had struck Southeast Florida as a powerful hurricane.

More from Gary Nelson
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