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No power for 5.6 million in Florida

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Carol Orr wades through knee-deep waters on Tuesday to check on his 82-year-old father, Bernard Orr, who lives by the river in Jacksonville, Fla. After Hurricane Irma, Jacksonville saw some of the worst flooding in decades. (Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
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ORLANDO, Fla. — More than 5.6 million homes and businesses in Florida — including about 1 million in Central Florida — did not have electricity on Tuesday morning, according to the state’s Division of Emergency Management.

Officials said people could be without power for a week or more. They say it will be the largest restoration process in history.

Utility companies are still assessing before giving a more specific time period.

“Our crews are working as quickly and safely as possible to assess damage to our system and restore power,” Orlando Utilities Company said in a statement on its website. “We are focusing on restoring power to feeders that serve critical customers like hospitals, wastewater plants, fire, and police.”

OUC had about 95,000 customers without power.

Duke Energy, which has 9,000 workers trying to restore power, said customers don’t need to report their outages.

“We will not stop until we get everyone back on,” Duke Energy Florida President Harry Sideris said in a statement.

Hurricane Irma blasted the entire state over the weekend and Monday morning causing flooding and downed trees and power lines.

RELIEF FUNDS

Last week, Texas Republican Rep. Jeb Hensarling, along with 106 Republicans in the House and Senate, voted against a $15.25 billion Hurricane Harvey relief bill that was coupled with an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling and a measure to keep the government funded for a short period, signaling that a faction of conservatives will likely vote against billions in Irma relief if they deem the money isn’t directly related to storm recovery.

“The extremists in the Republican conference who somehow think we should be offsetting the cost of an emergency don’t understand the concept of an emergency,” Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz said. “It was the largest storm to hit the state in modern times.”

Wasserman Schultz said it’s impossible to even ballpark how much money Florida will need from the federal government. The cleanup is just beginning, and the immediate priorities are restoring power and getting fuel into the state.

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