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Wed Sep 13, 2017, 10:56 AM

Herculean Task as Crews Race to Restore Power Cut by Irma

Herculean Task as Crews Race to Restore Power Cut by Irma

Almost 60,000 utility workers from the U.S. and Canada work to fix downed lines and flooded substations

By Cameron McWhirter, Erin Ailworth and Arian Campo-Flores



Updated Sept. 12, 2017 7:07 p.m. ET

Block by block and city by city, utilities face one of the largest power restoration challenges in U.S. history as they bring back electricity to more than 15 million people affected by Hurricane Irma.

Almost 60,000 utility workers from the U.S. and Canada are descending on Florida and other states hard hit by the storm, with more line crews and contractors expected soon, according to the Edison Electric Institute, an industry group. They are painstakingly repairing electrical substations, power poles, transmission lines and other parts of the grid knocked out by winds and floodwaters.

The aim is to restore power to hospitals and other critical facilities first, then bring the lights back to most residents as quickly as possible. But utility and government officials acknowledge it will take days or even weeks for the herculean effort. Restoring full power after superstorm Sandy in 2012 took more than a month.

More than six million U.S. customers remained without power as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the U.S. Energy Department, including roughly 4.8 million, or 48% of the state’s total customers, in Florida; 932,000, or 22%, in Georgia; and 141,000, or 6%, in South Carolina.

Write to Cameron McWhirter at cameron.mcwhirter@wsj.com, Erin Ailworth at Erin.Ailworth@wsj.com and Arian Campo-Flores at arian.campo-flores@wsj.com

Appeared in the September 13, 2017, print edition as 'Power Outage Pushes Limits.'

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