Hurricane Michael left 1.2 million people without electricity from the Gulf Coast to the southern edge of Virginia before being downgraded to a tropical storm, according to the utility industry group helping to lead the recovery effort with the federal government.
Thursday evening estimates show approximately 1.2 million electricity customers were without power in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia, according to Tom Kuhn, president of the Edison Electric Institute, the lead trade group for the investor-owned utility industry.
"Currently, the majority of outages are in Florida and North Carolina," said Kuhn in a statement, warning that despite Hurricane Michael being downgraded to a tropical storm, "it remains a dangerous storm as it continues to move through North Carolina and Virginia."
More than 33,000 workers from at least two dozen states have mobilized to restore power.
The Energy Department, with whom Kuhn is in contact, said that about 484,000 customers in North Carolina, about 9 percent of the state, is without power. Florida has 381,000 customers without power, followed by Georgia with 214,000 customers without electricity, and Virginia with 108,000 customers without electric service. South Carolina and Alabama had just over 70,000 customers in the dark.
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The agency's Energy Information Administration said the outages from Hurricane Michael are "heavily concentrated in a narrow band" when compared to Hurricane Florence’s wide range of impacts.
"Crews will continue to work around the clock to restore power safely and as efficiently as possible," said Kuhn. But he warned that in some cases restoring power "will require not just repairing, but completely rebuilding the energy grid."
High winds could also slow recovery efforts, as winds must be below 30 miles per hour for crews to use bucket trucks. Road closures, downed trees, and structural damage could also slow electricity restoration efforts, Kuhn added.
Kuhn's member companies are part of the CEO-led Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council that coordinates with the federal government on emergency response efforts.
The council is in contact with the Department of Energy, Department of Homeland Security, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency in helping to coordinate the industry’s response to Hurricane Michael.