Irma update, FPL anger edition

My parents and several friends belong to the ten percent of FPL customers without power this morning. Although the utility had been promising full restoration for the southeastern coast of Florida all week, it revised its statements on Friday: now those who live south of Miller Drive will get power restored by Tuesday latest. But FPL had twelve years and hundreds of millions spent updating the grid and technology only to have the technology crash (in the Sunshine State, residents aren’t allowed to disconnect from the grid even if they own solar panels; it’s another one of the perks that lobbyists can buy).

An example of the absurdity. On the way to the supermarket, my dad waved down a Michigan power company truck contracted by FPL. After he explained that power was out to eighty-eight homes connected to their transformer, the man said he was shocked; he checked the computer. Apparently the neighborhood wasn’t on the grid. Who knows then if trucks would have appeared at all. As I pointed out, a dozen years after Hurricane Wilma a powerful hurricane that delivered a glancing blow knocks out a million-plus customers in Miami-Dade County alone. Imagine if Irma had stuck to the Sept. 7 forecast, which had her buzzsawing through us and points north. Imagine if my father hadn’t flagged down the driver.

A week after Irma, the rest of us crawl toward normality. Classes resume at every level tomorrow. And north of the Caribbean Sea churns another tropical storm on its way to hurricane status following a similar trajectory as Irma’s. Early reports suggest Florida may get spared a direct hit. Normality in Florida means living with hurricane anxiety in September.

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