Drew Wilson, Author at Florida Politics

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

Gulf Power gives $200K to Michael relief as grid work nears finish line

There’s light at the end of the tunnel for the thousands of utility workers who have pitched in on Gulf Power’s efforts to get service restored in the Florida Panhandle, but for the many homes and businesses destroyed by Hurricane Michael fixing the grid won’t fix the problem.

Michael left hundreds of thousands without power when it tore through Northwest Florida on Oct. 10, including more than 125,000 Gulf Power customers.

After two weeks of around-the-clock work by Gulf Power employees and thousands of linemen and support personnel from around the state and country, there are only a couple pockets of Bay County that still in the dark.

Gulf Power is still on track to get more than 95 percent of its customers in the western Panama City area back online by 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. The final batch of ratepayers — those living in and around Callaway, Springfield and Parker — will have their lights back on by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday.

But even after the final downed power poll is replaced and the final switch is flipped, thousands will still be feeling the devastation brought about by the Category 4 storm.

“This is a long path to recovery. We have more than 200 of our own teammates who live and work in the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Michael, so they know firsthand the challenges our customers are facing,” said Sandy Sims, Gulf Power’s Eastern District general manager, which includes Bay County.

“This is our home, and our commitment to rebuilding and recovering extends beyond the electric system. With many of our customers no longer able to safely receive power due to significant damage, the need is great.”

To help aid those pummeled by the storm, the Gulf Power Foundation has pledged to contribute $200,000 to disaster relief efforts. The Red Cross of Northwest Florida will receive half of that money to continue its mission in Bay, Washington, Jackson and Holmes counties. The other half will be deposited into the United Way of Northwest Florida’s Hurricane Michael Relief and Disaster Fund.

“Our community has inspired us. Our storm restoration team has been overwhelmed by the support, appreciation and encouragement they have felt in every neighborhood, even where hurricane damage is the most devastating.” Sims continued. “It’s our privilege to be part of this purposeful work of recovery, and right now, we have no greater purpose than helping to restore light and hope for this community.”

The Gulf Power Foundation is one of many organizations that have pledged significant resources to Hurricane Michael relief and recovery efforts.

While Gulf Power was focused on its core responsibility of getting the power back on, the Walt Disney Company, the St. Joe Company Foundation, Trulieve and UnitedHealth Group each announced major contributions to aid disaster recovery programs.

In addition to killing more than three dozen people, including 29 Floridians, CoreLogic estimates Michael caused $2.5 to $4 billion in damage to residential and commercial properties in the Sunshine State.

The storm, the strongest hurricane ever recorded in the Panhandle region, also caused catastrophic damage to Tyndall Air Force Base, with every building on the nearly 15-square-mile installation sustaining damage or being completely destroyed.

A map of Gulf Power’s projected restoration times is below.


Anna Eskamani clears $500K raised for HD 47 flip

Orlando Democrat Anna Eskamani has hit another major milestone in her bid to flip the seat held by exiting Republican state Rep. Mike Miller blue.

The Planned Parenthood exec and first-generation American has long been the fundraising leader in Orange County’s House District 47, and through Oct. 19 she said she had gathered more than $500,000 in support of her candidacy.

Eskamani’s new reports haven’t been uploaded to the Florida Division of Elections website, though she said in a Tuesday press release that she’s now raised $426,891 in hard money and another $73,850 in soft money through her affiliated political committee People Power for Florida.

“Our campaign is fueled by everyday people — Democrats, Republicans, and those with no party affiliation — who are ready to redefine politics in Florida, and elect a first time candidate that is vocal, authentic, and effective,” Eskamani said.

“We offer a compelling vision for the future of our state, one that is grounded in our passion for public education, environmental protection, health care access, and gun safety. As a first time candidate with no personal wealth, I am thrilled to have raised $500,000 and will continue to do my part in creating community, building leaders, and facilitating meaningful change,” she concluded.

Though her campaign didn’t list how much of that cash is still in the bank, Eskamani’s financial reports covering Oct. 6 through Oct. 12 showed her with about $63,000 banked between the two accounts.

Her general election opponent, Winter Park Republican Stockton Reeves, had amassed $237,551 through the same date and had $84,371 banked on Oct. 12. Eskamani’s mention of personal wealth may have been a jab at Reeve’s comparatively lackluster fundraising prowess — 40 percent of his bankroll has come from his own checking account.

The HD 47 contest has taken a negative turn in recent weeks as Reeves and the Florida GOP have slammed Eskamani as “unfit for office” based on her using a handful of four-letter words during public appearances.

Those incidents weren’t enough to scare off former President Barack Obama and Orlando mega attorney John Morgan from joining the 70-plus local leaders and orgs already lined up behind her House campaign. She has also brushed off the criticisms by putting out her own ads painting the campaign tactic as a sign of fear among “political insiders.”

HD 47 covers north-central Orange County and is vacant due to Miller opting to challenge Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy in Florida’s 7th Congressional District rather than seek another term in the state House.

The seat has a slim Democratic advantage in voter registrations and it was held by now-Democratic Sen. Linda Stuart before Miller edged her out by four points in the 2014 cycle. He followed that up with a 6-point win over Democrat Beth Tuura in 2016, when the seat voted plus-11 for Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Election Day is Nov. 6.


Florida Retailers endorse five fresh faces for Florida Senate

The Florida Retail Federation on Tuesday endorsed five non-incumbent Republicans running for Florida Senate seats in November’s elections, including one who is looking to unseat an incumbent Democrat.

Among the five candidates getting the nod was Tommy Wright, the newly anointed nominee for Senate District 14. The New Smyrna Beach businessman was selected for the nomination after longtime lawmaker Dorothy Hukill died earlier this month at the age of 72.

FRF’s Tuesday announcement also reiterated its endorsement for former Clearwater Republican Rep. Ed Hooper, who is competing against former New Port Richey Democratic Rep. Amanda Murphy to take over the vacant SD 16. FRF originally endorsed Hooper, who faced a light challenge in the primary, back in early July.

“We’re excited about the positive impact these new candidates will have as senators in supporting Florida’s retail industry and encouraging business growth in our state,” said FRF president and CEO R. Scott Shalley. “Our team has met with each of these candidates, many of whom we’ve worked with in the past, and we feel confident they’ll have the best interests of our members and business owners at heart during their time in the Florida Senate.”

The other candidates earning an endorsement: Republican Rep. Ben Albritton, who is running to replace Sebring Sen. Denise Grimsley in SD 26; Hialeah Rep. Manny Diaz Jr., who is up against Democrat David Perez, a former firefighter, in SD 36; and Marili Cancio, who is looking to oust first-term Democratic Sen. Annette Taddeo in SD 40.

Of the five candidates, Albritton and Wright are running in two of the friendliest districts for GOP candidates — Trump carried both seats by double digits two years ago.

Hooper, meanwhile, is in a dogfight with Murphy while Diaz is running in a district that has favored down-ballot Republicans but went plus-14 for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Cancio’s bid may be the hardest, however, with Taddeo having the both the benefit of incumbency.

The new batch of FRF Senate endorsements follows the trade group’s bulk endorsement of Senate incumbents last week. Making that list: Republican Sens. Dennis BaxleyAaron BeanGeorge GainerTom LeeKathleen PassidomoKeith PerryWilton SimpsonKelli Stargel, and Dana Young, as well as Democratic Sen. Bobby Powell.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Soderberg ad

New ad touts Nancy Soderberg’s bipartisan approach to healthcare

Fresh off a strong fundraising quarter, former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg is out with a new ad touting her healthcare priorities in the race for Florida’s 6th Congressional District.

The new ad, “Afford,” features one of the St. Augustine Democrat’s would-be constituents, Kay, explaining why she left the Republican Party to cast a ballot for Soderberg in August and is planning to support her again in November.

“I’m a schoolteacher and was a lifelong Republican. My uncle was even the Orange County campaign coordinator for [Ronald] Reagan. But this election, I can’t support Mike Waltz for Congress,” Kay says in the ad. “Because his healthcare plan would cost us more, including higher premiums for millions and eliminating protections for pre-existing conditions. So that’s why I’m supporting Nancy Soderberg for Congress. Nancy will work with Republicans and Democrats and make sure our health care is affordable.”

Soderberg’s campaign didn’t detail the media buy backing up the new ad, though filings with the Federal Communications Commission show numerous TV buys made by the campaign in the past week.

Soderberg and Waltz are competing for the Congressional seat recently vacated by Republican gubernatorial nominee Ron DeSantis. A recent internal poll circulated by the Soderberg campaign showed her and Waltz tied at 45 percent support apiece with 9 percent of voters undecided.

CD 6 covers parts of St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler and Volusia counties on Florida’s Atlantic coast. President Donald Trump won CD 6 by 17 points two years ago while DeSantis, who held the seat for three terms, won re-election by 17 points.

The Cook Political Report and Larry Sabato both rate CD 6 as “likely Republican,” while Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight has moved the race into the “lean Republican” category. Their forecasting model currently expects Waltz to win 52-48 in November, though it gives Soderberg a two in seven chance of flipping the seat.

Soderberg’s new ad is below.

Caruso Bonfiglio

Ethics complaint filed against Mike Caruso in increasingly contentious HD 89 race

Ocean Ridge Mayor Jim Bonfiglio has filed a complaint alleging Republican opponent Mike Caruso for violating a half-dozen campaign laws, including those that govern “in-kind” contributions and the proper filing of campaign finance reports.

In a letter sent to the Florida Elections Commission, Bonfiglio pointed to a recent Florida Politics article outlining the Delray Beach Republican’s contentious relationship with the Bermuda High West Beach & Tennis Club and his use of its facilities as an unofficial campaign headquarters during the primary election season.

In an April 2018 letter from the club to candidate, club president William Green said Caruso’s “guests and campaign associates completely occupied the Club … the Club was congested with filming equipment which hindered the use for other members.”

When that violation and two others led to Caruso and his wife, Tracey, getting a six-month ban from club grounds, a spokesman for Caruso said the campaign had no comment on the matter.

Still, the behaviors described by Green indicate Caruso was receiving improper campaign benefits by not placing a valuation on his use of the club’s property on his campaign finance reports. Additionally, Tracey Caruso appears to be the membership holder and there are no records of “in-kind” contributions coming from her either.

The lack of disclosure could prove troublesome for Caruso as his campaign shelled out more than $9,000 for photography and video production services around the same time he was cited for crowding out fellow members with camera equipment.

Unlike the Spike Lee joints of yesteryear, campaigns can’t get away with guerrilla filmmaking and must instead pony up fair market value for the use of a location for video and photo shoots. If no money is exchanged, the campaign must mark it down as an “in-kind” contribution from the venue.

Bonfiglio seized on those questionable practices in his letter, saying that his opponents use of the club for campaign purposes was a clear violation of state campaign finance law.

“Members of the Club must pay a fee to the Club for the use of this property and Caruso paid no such fee,” Bonfiglio wrote. “Either Caruso paid a rental fee for this property and failed to disclose the expenditure, or the rental fee was waived as an in-kind contribution by the Club and Caruso failed to disclose the contribution.”

If the latter scenario proves true, Bonfiglio wrote, it would be a violation of chapter 166.055 Florida Statutes.

The law reads as follows: “Any person who makes an in-kind contribution shall, at the time of making such contribution, place a value on such contribution, which valuation shall be the fair market value of such contribution. Travel conveyed upon private aircraft shall be valued at the actual cost of per person commercial air travel for the same or a substantially similar route.”

The Democratic nominee closes out his complaint by taking a page from the centuries-old doctrine of “falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus,” meaning that if Caruso, an accountant, is cooking the books to hide one transgression, it’s likely he’s obfuscating quite a few more.

“This also causes great concern as to how many other contributions of similar types Caruso has failed to disclose and report, or how many expenditures Caruso has made without disclosing them,” Bonfiglio wrote before urging the FEC to start an expedited investigation into the alleged violations.

Bonfiglio and Caruso are competing for HD 89, which covers coastal portions of Palm Beach County and is one of the few dots of red within the traditionally Democratic area. The district is currently held by term-limited Republican Rep. Bill Hager.

HD 89 was one of only six districts in the entire state to flip from voting for Mitt Romney in 2012 to supporting Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to an analysis by MCI Maps and in 2018 the race between Bonfiglio and Caruso is considered to be a potential flip.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

felon voting rights (Large)

Voter restoration amendment backers spend another $1.8M on ads

The committee sponsoring the “Voting Restoration Amendment,” which would restore voting rights to Florida felons who have completed their sentences, spent more than $1.8 million of its reserves pushing the proposal on the airwaves, online and via direct mail between Oct. 6 and Oct. 12.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy, which led the drive to get Amendment 4 on the ballot, received just $113,600 in contributions during the weekly reporting period with nearly all of it coming in via a $100,000 check from ex-hedge fund manager Michael Novogratz.

The bulk of the action in the new report was found on its expenditure sheet, which showed nearly $1.81 million in spending. Topping the ledger was a $1 million media buy through Screen Strategies Media, followed by a $400,000 digital ad buy through Mercury Public Affairs and another $400,000 payment for direct mailers from Mission Control.

The $1.8 million spent by Floridians for a Fair Democracy was augmented by nearly $150,000 worth of “in-kind” contributions, including a $112,000 digital ad buy from ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s, which has been pitching in on the Amendment 4 effort for weeks, and another $11,000 or so in printing via Organize Florida.

Floridians for a Fair Democracy set up shop in 2014 but didn’t begin raising money in earnest until after the 2016 general election. Since then, it has reeled in more than $17.7 million in contributions, with about a quarter of those funds coming from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The committee had $3.58 million left in the tank on Oct. 12.

Overall, there are about 1.7 million convicted felons in the Sunshine State. Amendment 4 would restore voting rights to the vast majority of those individuals with the only carveouts being felons convicted of sex offenses or murder. Constitutional amendments must earn 60 percent of the vote to pass, and recent polling shows Amendment 4 on track to pass with 71 percent support.

The current voting rights restoration system requires felons to wait up to seven years after their conviction to apply for restoration, which is handled on a case-by-case basis by the Governor and Cabinet.

Election Day is Nov. 6.

Carlson Spano

New poll shows Ross Spano 6 points up in CD 15 contest

The race for Florida’s 15th Congressional District has been surprisingly close, but a new poll being circulated by Dover state Rep. Ross Spano shows he’s in good position to keep the traditionally-Republican seat from flipping on Election Day.

The Remington Research Group poll found Spano, currently in his third term representing Hillsborough’s HD 59, with 47 percent support among likely CD 15 voters. Former prosecutor and General Counsel for the Florida Department of Citrus Kristen Carlson, the Democratic nominee, came in 6 percentage points behind.

Though Spano’s score comes in a point behind a generic Republican candidate, his lead falls well outside the poll’s margin of error and falls in line with other recent polls of the Central Florida district.

A Club for Growth poll published on Oct. 9 found Spano with a 46-39 percent lead over Carlson in the R+13 district, while a late-September measure from Democratic-leaning pollster Bold Blue Campaigns pegged the race at 49-46 percent, advantage Spano.

A month ago, Carlson touted her own internal poll that showed her on top by a single point.

Thus far, no major poll has shown either candidate with majority support, and with 12 percent of voters undecided RRG’s poll there’s still plenty of wiggle room left for a comfortable GOP win or a major Democratic pickup.

When it comes to political handicappers, however, the thought is most of those voters will break toward Carlson on Election Day.

The heretofore “safe Republican” seat is currently listed as a “toss up” on Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight. According to their model, Spano would prove victorious five out of nine times given the current lay of the land, but his projected vote share of 50.4 percent comes in just eight-tenths of a point higher than Carlson’s.

CD 15 covers parts of Hillsborough, Lake and Polk counties and is considered to be a heavily Republican district. U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, who is giving up the seat after four terms, won his most recent re-election bid by 15 points. The district also voted plus-10 for President Donald Trump two years ago.

In addition to the lack of an incumbent, Carlson’s strong fundraising and deep ties to Polk County, home to 40 percent of district residents, have made the 2018 race quite competitive.

There was more good news for Spano further down the RRG poll: Trump’s favorability rating. More than half of the 1,369 voters polled said they had a positive view of the president while 45 percent felt otherwise, giving the first-term POTUS a plus-6 favorability rating.

The Governor race was also in his corner. Former Congressman Ron DeSantis, the Republican nominee, led Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum 51-44 percent with the remaining 5 percent undecided.

Spano and Carlson each scored a plus-5, though fewer voters were familiar with the candidates. Of the 53 percent who had an opinion on Spano, 29 percent saw him favorably and 24 percent didn’t. More than three-fifths of voters had no opinion on Carlson, but those who did liked her by 22-17 percent margin.

RRG’s sample was made up of 40 percent Republicans, 36 percent Democrats and 24 percent unaffiliated voters. The polls has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.64 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.


Florida Retailers expect scary good Halloween spending

Florida Retailers are expecting their tills to be flush, not hexed, when Halloween rolls around later this month.

According to a survey by the National Retail Federation, an affiliate of the Florida Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend some frighteningly large sums celebrating the eve of All-Hallows — nearly enough to crack the all-time record of $9.1 billion.

NRF estimates the average consumer taking part in Halloween to spend more than four Jacksons and a fivespot, which would make for a nationwide rake of $9 billion at the cash register. And FRF head R. Scott Shalley said the Sunshine State is expected to post similarly strong results.

“With Florida’s economy surging and numerous statewide economic indicators remaining positive, we expect another strong year for spending on Halloween candy, costumes, decorations and other themed purchases,” he said. “This should mean another robust sales opportunity for retailers who market their goods and scare enough consumers into their stores.”

According to the survey, a third of revelers plan to hand out a greeting card or two; while two-thirds say they’ll pick up a creepy — or cute — raiment; three-quarters will buy some frightening flair for their homes; and all but a few will stock up on all things sugary for the kiddos that come a-knocking.

Those ever-popular categories account for $8.9 billion of total spending.

Seven out of 10 polled said they’ll man the door for at least part of their evening, while the other 30 percent will be escorting their little imps around the neighborhood. Other popular activities among adult celebrants include using decorations to make dwellings a bit more devilish and donning a costume of their own for the night.

And when it’s time to party a third will party hard.

Some less common activities: A fifth say they’ll dress up their pets, up from the one-in-six who said the same last year, and nearly the same number plan to venture out to a haunted house.

Picking a costume is never easy — there’s a fine line between démodé and en vogue — and to prevent coming off as a square, 35 percent of consumers plan to seek inspiration over the internet and the most popular sites they’ll turn to are Pinterest, Facebook and YouTube. Another 19 percent plan to get their ideas IRL by leaning on their friends and family for suggestions.

When it comes to kid’s costumes, the most popular threads are seemingly interchangeable with the top flicks at the box office, meaning Disney franchises will dominate.

Spider-man and the Avengers cohort fill two spots on the top-10, while also-ran superheroes from Antman to Aquaman combine to 5 percent of costumes on the wish list. The Star Wars franchise, also under the House of Mouse’s umbrella, is only slightly less popular than Marvel. Frozen is also set to continue its streak as well, with youngsters unwilling to “let it go” five years out from its release date.

The only named character from a non-Disney IP was Batman, who was marked down as the third-most popular costume pick for 2018.

The list isn’t devoid of yesteryears staples, however. The top costume overall will be some flavor of princess, while witches, ghosts and pirates also made the list. And when it comes to adult costumes, non-branded costumes fill six slots on the top-10 list.


Poll: Andrew Gillum enters first gubernatorial debate with 6-point lead

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and former Congressman Ron DeSantis are set to square off in their first gubernatorial debate this evening, and a new poll shows Gillum is heading into the televised head-to-head with a 6-point lead.

The poll, conducted by Tom Eldon’s SEA Polling & Strategic Design, found Gillum, a Democrat, up 48-42 percent over his Republican rival.

The remaining 10 percent of respondents said they were unsure which of the two candidates they’d vote for on the eve of early voting beginning in several Florida counties

The SEA poll, conducted Oct. 17 through Oct. 20, is a middle ground between two other fresh polls of the gubernatorial contest.

Team DeSantis circulated internal poll numbers Sunday showing the Trump-backed pol with a 47-45 percent lead over Gillum. Also on Sunday, 24-hour news network CNN released a poll showing Gillum with a 52-42 percent lead.

An average of public polls in the gubernatorial contest produced by RealClearPolitics pegs Gillum with a 3.7 percentage point lead in the matchup.

DeSantis and Gillum will face each other tonight in front of an audience at the WEDU Studios in Tampa, the first time the pair will share a stage for the debate since winning their respective party nominations.

The SEA poll also measured two other statewide races slated for the general election ballot: The contests for U.S. Senate and Attorney General.

Floridians will also choose between incumbent Republican Jimmy Patronis and former Democratic state Sen. Jeremy Ring in the Chief Financial Officer race and between Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell and Democratic nominee Nikki Fried in the Ag. Commissioner contest.

In the U.S. Senate bout, which could carry substantial national implications, SEA found Republican Gov. Rick Scott with a 47-45 percent lead over incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson with 9 percent undecided. The RealClearPolitics average on that race shows Nelson with a 1.3 percentage point edge.

In the Attorney General contest, Republican nominee Ashley Moody holds a 6-point lead over  Tampa Democratic Rep. Sean Shaw

Shaw and Moody are vying to replace Republican Attorney General Pam Bondi, who cannot seek re-election due to term limits.

While the SEA poll showed Democratic candidates in the lead in two out of three races polled there were a couple bright spots for Republicans: President Donald Trump posted a positive favorability rating and a plurality of voters said they thought the state was “headed in the right direction” – a stat that most pollsters say favors the GOP given that it’s held a trifecta on state government for two decades.

On Trump, 47 percent of those polled said they saw the president in a “very favorable” or “somewhat favorable” light, while a combined 45 percent held a negative view. Both DeSantis and Scott have close ties to Trump and have highlighted their positive relationship with the White House as a benefit if they are elected in November.

The rest of the favorability scores: Gillum earned a plus-10, DeSantis a plus-9, Scott a plus-8 and Nelson came in under water by a single point.

The SEA poll received was conducted via live interviews and received responses from 600 registered voters, 78 percent of whom said they were “almost certain to vote.” The sample was made up of 41 percent Republicans, 39 percent Democrats and 20 percent independent voters.

Broken down by race, two-thirds of those polled self-identified as white, 14 percent as Hispanic and 13 percent as black. By age, a third of those polled were 50 to 64 years old, 21 percent were 35 to 49, 20 percent were 65 to 74, while the 18 to 34-year-old and 75-plus brackets each made up 13 percent of the sample. Women made up 54 percent of those polled

Interestingly, the SEA poll also measured voters’ religiosity, with 43 percent identifying as protestant, 23 percent as Catholic, 19 percent as “none,” 8 percent as other and 4 percent as Jewish. Nearly half of voters who disclosed their religion said they attended services once a week or more.

The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. The poll is below.


Florida Statewide Trend Toplines by Andrew Wilson on Scribd


Gulf Power moves up restoration timetable for some Bay County customers

Northwest Florida utility company Gulf Power announced Sunday that it has moved up the timetable to restore power to certain Bay County residents still in the dark post-Hurricane Michael.

“Because of the tireless work and great progress that has been made since the start of this rebuilding effort, we’ve been able to look at each area of Bay County to determine where we could shorten restoration estimates,” Gulf Power head Stan Connally said in a press release.

“We are happy to deliver good news to many of our customers that power will be restored sooner than expected. Our storm restoration team, that is 7,500 strong, is focused on completing this rebuilding effort as they continue working in the most devastated areas.”

As of Sunday morning, Gulf Power had restored power to 95 percent or more of its ratepayers in Escambia, Holmes, Jackson, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Walton and Washington counties.

Gulf Power said the progress it has made in those counties has allowed their platoon of power pros to start snowballing on the restoration efforts in the Panama City area. As of 8 a.m. CDT Sunday, there were still 36,174 such residences and businesses without power.

In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Michael, there were more than 100,000 Bay County customers left without power. Gulf Power warned customers ahead of the Category 4 storm’s landfall that it expected much of its infrastructure would have to be rebuilt as it worked on the power restoration effort.

The utility company started making significant progress in the Panama City area on Oct. 15, five days after Michael made landfall near Mexico Beach.

In addition to the company’s own employees and contractors, another 6,000 lineworkers and support personnel from all corners of the state and the country. Among the personnel pitching in on the round-the-clock effort are many power pros from Gulf Power’s sister companies, Georgia Power and Alabama Power.

Gulf Power’s new update indicates the utility co. has brought another 10,000 customers back online since its Thursday announcement that it had restored power to 78,000 of the 125,000 customers affected by Hurricane Michael. That progress includes hundreds of ratepayers located near U.S. Route 231 in the Youngstown area.

The remaining Bay County customers were originally slated to have their power restored by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 24, and that’s still the case for those living in and around the communities of Callaway, Parker and Springfield.

The new timetable, however, moved up the estimated restoration time for most other customers living in the Panama City area, with the next batch expected to get their electrical service back by 11:59 p.m. Sunday.

Gulf Power has plotted the updated timetable on a map and customers can get incremental progress updates from the company through its FacebookTwitter and Instagram feeds as well as its interactive outage map.

In addition to killing three dozen people, including 26 Floridians, CoreLogic estimates Michael caused $2.5 to $4 billion in damage to residential and commercial properties in Florida alone. The storm also caused catastrophic damage to Tyndall Air Force Base, with every building on the nearly 15-square-mile base sustaining damage or being completely destroyed.

The updated map of Gulf Power’s projected restoration times is below.

Gulf Power restoration map 10-21-2018

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