‘It’s not good,’ electric company worker says of Southwest Florida power outages

Published: Oct. 4, 2022 at 10:30 AM EDT
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Nearly a week after Hurricane Ian devastated Southwest Florida, more than 60% of Lee County Electric Cooperative customers remained without power as of Monday.

More than 800 lineman and tree trimmers are working around the clock to get that power restored.

"We should be in Paris right now," Cape Coral resident Chris Simonian said Monday.

But instead of France, Simonian and his wife, Renee, sat outside their home, taking a break.

"Cleaning, talking, going to bed early and waking up early," Simonian said.

And waiting for the power to come back on.

"A struggle," Simonian said. "I just don’t know where to go."

All over Cape Coral, crews from across the country, including a team from upstate New York, are working nonstop to get those lights back on.

"There’s no way we could handle something of this magnitude. Having those resources come in is critical," said Jeff Justin, a supervisor for Lee County Electric Cooperative.

Justin said the devastation from Hurricane Ian is the worst he's ever seen.

"I was here a few weeks before Irma. It was my first exposure to a hurricane. This makes Irma look like a spring thunderstorm and it’s just so sad to see," Justin said.

Justin said lineman are working 16-hour days, going down a list by priority, like turning power back on at a school and technical college on Santa Barbara Boulevard.

"It's wonderful to be a part of it and we’re actually adding some value, we think, trying to get people's lives back to normal," Justin said. "But it’s not good."

The work takes its toll as these crews put everything on the line.

"Their hearts are in it," Justin said.

Back at the Simonian's house, they hope they're next on the list.

"Everybody counts on the internet, but when you have no power and no internet, there’s no way to get information," Simonian said. "You almost need a town crier."

Another 500 lineman are expected in town by the end of the day Tuesday, along with an additional 500 by the end of the week.

LCEC estimates 95% power restoration in Lee County by the end of the day Saturday, but hopes it's sooner.

Scripps Only Content 2022