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 Facebook, Twitter 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.