With much of Manatee County still without power, more than 30,000 workers have been activated to help restore the hurricane-ravaged grid across Florida, according to Gov. Rick Scott’s office. The highway patrol is escorting utility trucks to speed up their access to impacted areas.
According to Florida Power & Light (FPL), 111,320 of its 184,900 Manatee County customers were still without power as of 12 p.m. Monday, while 19,890 had seen their power restored. At 6 a.m., 109,390 of its 184,900 customers were without power.
Across Florida, than 6.5 million customers had no power as of noon on Monday, according to state emergency management officials.
Initial reports indicate that Bradenton has been spared the worst of the vicious storm, which has been downgraded to a tropical storm by the National Hurricane Center. Nearly all of Florida, including Manatee County, remain in the area where tropical-storm force winds (up to 39 mph) are expected with 90 percent probability.
Often unable to load, the website for FPL appeared to be struggling with the high influx of visitors Monday morning.
“It may be an issue on our end,” a spokeswoman for FPL said. “We're on it and working on it as fast as possible.”
More than 23,000 Peace River Electric Cooperative (PERCO) customers were without power as of 10 a.m.
County spokesman Nicholas Azzara said that reports so far are “very good,” but that there are some downed powerlines and trees, however, and that additional first-in teams will not be going out until dawn.
"We had one team of beach paramedics do a predawn assessment in West Bradenton," Azzara said.
Prine Elementary School is one of the places that lost power.
Some evacuees were concerned Sunday night when the power went out at the school.
Then school principal Lynne Menard got on the school's PA system at 8:30 pm.
“The reason our power is out is that a pole fell down outside our building,” he said. “We have contacted the School District and we have activated our emergency generator.”
“But you need not worry,” he added. “You are in a hurricane-hardened building. As the saying goes 'Stay calm and carry-on.' And don't forget to comfort your children before you go to bed.”
Some lights returned on but not the air-conditioning — but after Menard's message, most evacuees began putting down their bed mats.
Signs of power on Anna Maria Island were also observed at a distance, according to Azzara, but first responders did not go out onto the island.
"We won't know more until daybreak," Azzara said.
At 3 a.m. Sunday, the Twitter account for the Miami-Dade Police tweeted that “power has now been restored to our HQ building.” The Alachua County Sheriff’s office tweeted that “Patrol units have been cleared to return to the streets. Normal operations have resumed.”
The sheriff’s office — which began dispatching officers for 911 calls at 4 a.m. — first deployed its majors and captains to begin clearing the roads, and then their first-in teams. Those teams were scheduled to go out at 6 a.m., but a band of rain moving into Manatee County has delayed them.
After Florida, the storm is expected to make its way through Georgia later Monday, and then hit Alabama early Tuesday morning. It is then expected to hit parts of Mississippi and Tennessee, according to the National Hurricane Center.
At least five deaths in Florida have been related to the storm, according to ABC News.