TECO’s power restoration efforts will continue throughout the weekend in the wake of Hurricane Ian

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — The main concern for hundreds of thousands of people in Tampa Bay in the wake of Hurricane Ian is turning the lights back on.

Nearly 100,000 Tampa Electric customers in Hillsborough and Polk Counties are still without power.

“When the tree fell, all the lights went out,” said Lorenzo Velazquez.

The massive tree that once stood tall in the front yard of Velazquez’s Valrico home now blocks Durant Road in both directions.

“We were in the living room and suddenly we heard a loud explosion and the tree just fell down the street,” Velazquez said.

The fallen tree endangers road safety. Before the “road closed” signs appeared, Velazquez said a car was rammed directly into the tree.

With wires dangling from crooked utility poles, hundreds of TECO customers in the area are still waiting for their power to be restored.

“No hot water. Nothing,” Velazquez said.

The combination of Hurricane Ian’s high winds and ground already saturated from summer storms caused trees to fall throughout the Tampa Bay area.

Almost 300,000 TECO customers lost power on Wednesday. As of 10pm on Friday night, TECO’s outage map shows the power is back on for almost 65% of them.

“We’re making significant progress in restoring power around the clock, and we won’t stop until we’ve restored every customer,” said Archie Collins, Tampa Electric’s president and chief executive officer. “We know customers are trying to get their lives back to normal and electricity is an integral part of that. Thanks for your patience.”

According to TECO, nearly 3,000 line workers, arborists and damage surveyors from Oklahoma and Texas were on the road Friday to help their crews restore power.

Velazquez told 8 On Your Side he was hoping one of those crews would have responded to the big mess outside his home by now.

“Come on, do it as soon as possible because we have a hard time getting along here and then school comes along,” he said.

A TECO spokesman told 8 On Your Side that a crew is due to respond to the large tree down Durant Road on Saturday. The company expects power to be restored to the vast majority of its customers by Sunday evening.

https://www.wfla.com/news/hillsborough-county/teco-power-restoration-efforts-to-continue-throughout-the-weekend-after-hurricane-ian/ TECO’s power restoration efforts will continue throughout the weekend in the wake of Hurricane Ian

Russell Falcon

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