South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida on October 25, 2005 · 6
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South Florida Sun Sentinel from Fort Lauderdale, Florida · 6

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Issue Date:
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
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PALM BEACH Sun-Sentinel o com Get The Latest Breaking News JLJ oca south Florida. Sun - Sentinel Tuesday October 25, 200s Section B UPDATES: The latest news BLOG: Insights on Wilma's aftermath from across Florida and around the Web IMAGES: Photo galleries from your neighborhood and all of South Florida L Florida 11 closings 2 Obituaries 11 Weather 12 PPL to take b to 4 weeks' 98 of customers in South Florida without power By Joseph Mann and doreen hemlock BUSINESS WRITERS With electricity out for a record 3.2 million of its customers, Florida Power & Light Co. expects to take "up to four weeks" to restore service to 3.2 million customers homes, apartments and businesses hit by the brief but violent fury of Hurricane Wilma on Monday. The utility that serves 35 counties plans to offer a more precise estimate today on when it expects to resume service "to the very last customer" without power. And it aims to provide a county-by-county breakdown perhaps Wednesday and sub-county estimates later in the week, executives said in a conference call late Monday. Most outages were concentrated in South Florida, with about 98 percent of all subscribers or 2.5 million customers in the tri-county area without service late Monday. Those affected included more than 862,800 customers in Broward, 657,600 in Palm Beach and 956,500 in Miami-Dade counties. "We ask for patience as we work around the clock marshaling as many resources as we can," said Geisha Williams, vice president for distribution. FPL also asked customers not to call the company to report outages, tying up phone lines. If there appears to be an emergency, such as a downed line that seems to pose an imminent danger, call 91 1 or 800-468-8243. ELECTRIC! IY TIPS To stay safe until power is fully restored, the company offered these tips: Don't walk in standing water because there could be an energized power line underneath the surface. Turn off and unplug home appliances to avoid possible electricity surges or even fires when power returns. Those using backup power generators should check instructions for proper use and make sure that exhausts don't enter into homes. Wilma knocked out power to more FPL clients than "any single event" in the company's history, president Armando Olivera said. FPL has 4.3 million subscribers in 35 counties in the state, so Wilma left almost three-quarters of its customers in the dark. "It had a wider footprint than expected and cut a wide swath through the most populous areas of South Florida," said FPL spokesman Tim Pagel. Initial assessments of FPL facilities point to "significant infrastructure damage," especially to transmission lines and substations that carry electricity to neighborhoods. No power plants were seriously damaged, he added. FPL said it already had more than 5, 100 people including employees, contract workers and out-of-state crews in place Monday starting restoration work, the largest crew ever in place before a storm. More repair tree-trimmers and line repair staff are POWER CONTINUES ON 2B cy ABOVE GROUND: FPL worker Donald Jessie repairs a power line at South Seacrest Boulevard and Southeast 22nd Avenue in Boynton Beach. Staff photoNicholas R. Von Staden i - '1 -H i 1 .s ! x : h ' i v I A 'VV""' I r " w V', '"V. '3 ; 7 1 a."" 1' t ' 1 I '!' ' ' '-- i niMii72?iWiiii ''"'if r-- ' - " " From the top down WRATHFUL WEATHER: Katie Bielecky, 39, of West Palm Beach, takes stock of the damage to her Florida room after Hifrricane Wilma tore through on Monday. Staff photo CarlineJean - V WILMA SHATTERS S. FLORIDA DENIAL We waited for Hurricane Wilma when we had no more patience. Prepared for it when we had no more resolve. And finally, hunkered down when we had no more time. And all we had to show for the effort was an area 80 miles long and as wide as Florida full of downed trees, damaged cars and broken traffic lights. And then there was the nagging realization that we've been in this same exact powerless place before. And probably will be again. Nobody ever wants a hurricane. But we really, really, really didn't want this one. Not after Dennis. And Katrina. And Rita. All hurricanes that have teased, toyed or smacked Florida this year. On top of Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne last year. It's enough to push Hayley Farmer to the bottle. At 2 months, Hayley has already been through two hurricanes. "She came home the day before Katrina," Sabrina Farmer said of the daughter .1 RALPH DE LA CRUZ COMMENTARY i she cradled in her arms while surveying her Fort Lauderdale neighborhood after the storm. "She lived the first week of her life without air conditioning," Farmer added. "And she was fine with it. Having been in the womb, she was used to being warm." Hayley better get comfortable again with her inner warmth because officials are warning it may take several weeks before 2.5 million FPL clients get electricity back on in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties. That number far surpassed the 550,000 customers left in the dark after Katrina. The combination of having DE U CRUZ CONTINUES ON 10B ii. 12 dties urged to boil water County's system still safe so far ByNeilSantaniello STAFF WRITER A dozen Palm Beach County cities had boil-water'orders in effect Monday, warning residents their drinking water could be contaminated, courtesy of Hurricane Wilma. The water danger stemmed somewhat from South Florida's love for leafi-ness. The upheaval of countless neighborhood trees in Wilma's roughly 100 mph winds ripped up and damaged scores of water mains entwined in their roots. That littered the county with pipe breaks, lowering water pressure and raising the risk of water contamination, county officials said. Pumps needed to push water through lines may also have failed to kick in after power outages, causing weak streams. Water pressure below 20 pounds per square inch can allow contaminants to intrude into lines. When that happens, health regulations require that residents be told to boil their water for three minutes to make it safe for consumption. Without disinfection, "You cannot ingest it in any way," said Debra West, a county Water Utilities Department employee at the county Emergency Operations Center. More boil-water orders are possible once post-storm water plant assessments are done, Assistant County Administrator Vince Bonvento said. Compromised water can be disinfected and made drinkable by boiling it for three minutes, or by adding eight drops of unscented WATER CONTINUES ON 7B County has many needs to meet, repairs to make BYJOSHHAFENBRACK STAFF WRITER Palm Beach County wakes up today to the grim post-storm task of providing basic necessities for thousands, mending smashed buildings and debris-clogged roads, and repairing structural damage to water lines and streetlights. Scrubbing clean the path of misery hacked by Hurricane Wilma promises to be a lengthy, budget-draining undertaking, although experts said it will take days to get an accurate read on the scope of the damage. County officials this morning are geared to open four distribution centers for food, ice and water, with more expected to follow, as crews tabulate the damage amid a mosaic of ruined homes, felled trees and unmoored street fixtures. "It's ugly out there," said Commission Chairman TonyMasilotti. The county has hired a private company, Cheney Brothers, to provide ready-made meals. The company has food V ready to be shipped to assist-ed-living and health-care facilities and the Red Cross, said company spokeswoman KinnaDenowitz. A catering company affiliated with Cheney Brothers provided more than 10,000 meals a day in Katrina-rav-aged Mississippi, Denowitz said. "They'll probably do the same down here," she said. Downed traffic signals have made roads throughout the county treacherous obstacle courses. Virtually all the signals are not operating, said County Administrator Bob Weisman. To that end, the county imposed a curfew at 7 p.m. Monday, with the decision on whether to extend it coming today. The speed of the road cleanup has ramifications for the school system, said Superintendent Art Johnson. Without power and clear streets, it's not practical or safe to begin classes again, he said. GOVERNMENT CONTINUES ON 10B

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