Kathy de la Rosa thought Isaac was over when she reopened her cushion factory in Hialeah on Monday morning. Then shortly after lunch, the lights went out.
“We thought, ‘Ok, we dodged a bullet again,’ ’’ de la Rosa recalled as her six employees started their shifts at Miami Prestige Interiors. “Everybody showed up for work. It was good.”
But as business closed Monday afternoon, de la Rosa was still relying on a generator to keep workers finishing an order due this week for a yacht. Hers was a familiar twist on post-storm South Florida Monday: waking up with electricity as the storm moved away from Miami, but ending the day without it.
Florida Power and Light reported 18,000 people were out of power Sunday night as Isaac made its way through the Florida Keys, but nearly 62,000 out of power late in the early evening Monday in Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. The statistics added evidence that Isaac’s remnants packed significant winds and rain — a phenomenon clear to anyone outside during South Florida’s soaked, stormy Monday.
“It was a lot worse today than it was yesterday,’’ said Andrew Kraus, whose Hollywood home was one of about 20 in his neighborhood without electricity Monday. The lights went out around 1 p.m. in his Hayes Street home. As sunset approached Kraus said he had not seen any utlitity crews.
His main concern: his 3-year-old daughter, who didn’t seem to be processing life without electricity. “All she knows is there is no Shaun the Sheep on TV,’’ he said. “She doesn’t get it yet that she’s going to have a cold bath tonight.”
The lingering storm continued knocking branches into power lines throughout Monday, while also complicating FPL’s repair efforts. Crews manning bucket trucks and working on lines must come down when wind gusts exceed 35 mph, and Isaac’s trailing bands contained winds that strong throughout Monday.
In all, about 293,000 FPL customers lost power from Isaac, but more than 215,000 saw their power restored by midday Monday, according to FPL. The numbers fluctuated with updated reports, but the outages dropped throughout the afternoon. The morning reports had about 74,000 people without power, and that number peaked at 77,000 in the afternoon before dipping down to 62,000 by 6 p.m..
When it comes to power outages, some customers get speedier service than others. Homes and businesses sharing power lines with hospitals will likely see power restored first, since large medical facilities are near the top of FPL’s priority list when it comes to deploying crews. (The top: power plants and substations.) Also near the top: police and fire stations, grocery stores, gas stations and banks with ATMs. From there, FPL looks for areas with the most customers out of power, FPL spokesman Richard Gibbs said.
In the Florida Keys, which are served by the Florida Keys Electric Cooperative and Keys Energy Services, about 7,800 customers lost power from Isaac, but that almost all had been restored as of Monday afternoon.
The mainland outages come as FPL is seeking a rate increase from state regulators. The publicly traded utility touts its ability to provide dependable electricity while spending less than competitors on maintenance and operations. Lewis Hay, CEO of FPL parent Nextera Energy, wrote in the company’s most recent annual report that FPL “had a very good year keeping operations and maintenance (O&M) costs low, and reliability high.”