By Schondra Aytch
Hurricane Irma, which devastated Cuba and the Virgin Islands last week, left a milder effect on the states. While the Hurricane ripped through the Northeast Caribbean, it made landfall only as a tropical storm on the Florida Keys, just missing Miami. Though many are thankful that the Hurricane fell short of expectations, it still left little mercy as severe flooding and high winds caused major wreckage. As recovery of Irma’s aftermath begins to take place on the islands and in the states, many sit idle during the clean-up due to little electricity. Irma, which reached the west coast of Florida up through Georgia and South Carolina, left quite the mess for officials to tackle.
With the death toll reaching over 50 people and central Cuba decimated, the unlikely topic of frustration for the affected areas is continued power outages. Islands off the coast of Puerto Rico, like Antigua and Barbuda- popular tourist spots with 90 percent of buildings demolished are living in darkness. While most evacuated from these islands before the brunt of Irma, many are still suffering; unsure how long it’ll take before power and electricity is restored to the few buildings standing. Residents of both the West and East Coast of Florida have already voiced their concerns about the power outages, surprised that the whole state is not up and running with electricity. Miami-Dade county which received full force winds from Irma, had the most power outages. With over three million left in darkness, Floridians are unsatisfied with the county commissioner’s assurance that their power will be restored.
Local activists believe that poor neighborhoods aren’t a priority for recovery teams. Many also blame Florida Power and Light (FPL), which powers half of Florida and guaranteed a strong electrical grid for storms like Irma. Unfortunately, the FPL didn’t live up to its reputation and has already received two major lawsuits resulting from charging customers high premiums. Power outages also affected over 200,000 across Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. Downtown Charleston experienced aggressive tidal surges, with over four feet of flooding. Some parts in Georgia had up to 15 feet of water, which now has no electricity and limited communication. As clean up continues and response teams are more present, officials suggest citizens in affected areas keep patience.