Tree removal companies help speed up power restoration

- Wednesday afternoon, Swann Avenue at Westshore Boulevard in Tampa was blocked by a massive tree that fell down as a result of Hurricane Irma. By the evening, it was all gone, in piles on the side of the road.

That tree took a utility pole down with it, knocking out power for the nearby community. With it removed, neighbors are hopeful a TECO bucket truck will be next to visit.

The buzzing of saws was music to neighbors' ears.

"This has been a pretty popular well-known tree around here because of how many people are out of power," said Dan Fields, Owner of Pinellas Tree Service.

Pinellas Tree Service is getting more than 100 calls a day. They play a big role in getting the lights back on.

As of Wednesday night, the Florida Division of Emergency Management reports there are still more than 3.2 million people without power.

Depending on where you live and what company you have, you could be only waiting days to be powered back up or, it could be weeks.

But some neighbors are seeing signs of hope that mean their electricity could be coming back sooner.

-1.9 million FPL customers are in the dark.
-More than 584,000 Duke Energy customers are still out.
-TECO reports 175,000 outages.  
-Withlacoochie Electric Cooperative has more than 35,000 customers left in the dark.
-Lakeland Electric is still working on restoring power to 23,000 customers.
-Peace River Electric Cooperative has more than 9,700 without power.

"It is dangerous, but it's going to get a lot of power going for a lot of people so it was a priority," Fields said, talking about the job of his crew. "You've got to strategically get in there and surgically cut."

While they were cutting, a TECO truck doing damage assessment stopped to take pictures, which, for neighbors in the Beach Park, Culbreath Isle and Culbreath Bayou neighborhoods, means one thing.

"Hoping that it comes back on soon," said Julie Sampson, who is without power.

Though millions in Florida are still without power, the lights are coming back on.
TECO has restored 250,000 customers or 58% of those who lost power.

FPL has powered up 60 percent or  2.5 million customers.

Meanwhile, Duke Energy has gotten the lights on for more than 809,000 customers or 58% who lost power. Their crews have to replace nearly 3,000 poles and 950 miles of wire across Florida.

In flooded areas, repairs could take longer. Peace River Electric Cooperative actually had to swap bucket trucks for boats to inspect downed power lines.
  
Those still in the dark are doing what they can to get by. We spotted a few extension cords stretching across the street as neighbors share power with other neighbors.

"We are still waiting and being patient," Sampson said.

Sampson and her husband spent the day at the beach, figuring if they're going to be hot, they might as well get some sun.

"We 16-year-old who we haven't seen in days because she's gone house to house to house of all her friends, anyone who had power," Sampson said.

A question we've gotten a lot is, why does my neighbor have power but I don't?

Peace River Electric Cooperative explained that the homes may be on different circuits, the transformer that serves your property may have internal damage, or, the service wire to your home may be damaged.

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