Irma Continues to Impact Florida


imagesAlthough no longer labeled a hurricane and well on its way to the Tennessee Valley, tropical storm Irma continues to have significant impacts across Florida.
As of about 3:00AM Thursday morning, there are reports of significant flooding across the northern and western parts of the Peninsula that have closed segments of major highways.  Flooding is expected to recede below major flood stage by the weekend but will have a high impact on water system restoration efforts.  Florida is home to around 1,600 community water systems.
Reports indicate that many communities on both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts still have boil water notices in place that are likely to remain in place until repair crews can get into the areas.  Principal causes are attributable to low pressure line events and contaminants such as dirt, sand, and other debris.  Most of the Florida Keys are still under boil orders.  And, ASDWA has learned, there is a 117 mile stretch of damaged pipe running along several of the Keys that needs repair and/or replacement so that service can be restored.
Florida DEP is working with the WARN Network (FlaWARN) to coordinate responses between water and wastewater utilities, the department, and other responders.  Gov. Rick Scott has issued an EMAC request for support and assistance in the Keys, an especially hard hit area.  WARNs from North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee are preparing to deploy repair crews and other response teams to support Florida efforts in the area.
Fuel supplies continue to be an issue.  The Florida Highway Patrol has 20 troopers dedicated to fuel escorts from Port of Jacksonville, Port of Tampa, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral to impacted areas as soon as those ports reopen.  In the Tampa Bay area, fuel terminals are operational and can both receive and distribute fuel.  Florida is coordinating closely with truckers and shippers to ensure that fuel deliveries can be made to retail stations once the roads are clear.
Power restoration continues apace to the more than 3.5 million affected residents.  Florida Light and Power believes that restoration to most of the state’s east and west coast communities should be accomplished between September 17 and 22.  Duke Energy, that serves central and north Florida, expects restoration by this weekend.  As would be expected, however, more severely impacted areas are likely to take longer.
Overall costs for infrastructure damage from Irma is estimated to range from $100 to $300 billion.  This is in addition to the $100-180 billion in infrastructure damage to Texas and Louisiana from Hurricane Harvey.
Please join ASDWA is sending positive thoughts to the citizens of Florida and the professionals and volunteers who are striving to help those in critical need.