After Hurricane Irma, Broward returning to normal, mayor says

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In Broward, where nearly 500,000 FPL customers or more than half the county remained without power on Tuesday, Mayor Barbara Sharief urged residents to be patient and “give it a couple of days” as crews worked to restore electricity, clear roads of debris and return to normalcy.

Speaking at a morning press conference in the county’s emergency operations center, Sharief said about 89 percent of FPL customers in Broward had lost power during and after Sunday’s storm, and that about 310,000 have had their power returned.

Many stores are still shuttered and roughly half of all traffic lights in Broward were inoperable Tuesday morning, Sharief said, but some grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations have reopened.

“Please do not panic,” she said. “We do have supplies. Food is not scarce, and neither is fuel in Broward County.”

Sharief said one way she hoped to restore normalcy was by lifting the countywide curfew on Monday morning, less than 48 hours after it was imposed and despite criticism from some city mayors.

“Our goal right now is recovery and restoration, and that means that we need to get people back to work, get essential personnel back to work, get relief for the people who worked for the five days through the storm and get the businesses back up and running,” she said. “Now curfew right now is necessary.”

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport resumed flights on Tuesday, though travelers are advised to call their airline or cruise line for possible delays.

Broward College President David Armstrong said all campuses had downed trees and other grounds damage. “But most of our buildings are actually open,” he said. “We have a little bit of water damage. We have a little bit of roof damage in some of the buildings, but we’re still assessing.”

Armstrong said “at least 80 to 90 percent” of Broward College’s facilities had power on Tuesday. He said that if power is restored to all buildings and debris is cleared from campuses, then employees might be able to return this week.

But for Broward College’s estimated 44,000 students, Armstrong asked for patience. He said the college would send messages to students by text and post information on its website at broward.edu.

“We have text messages that will go to all students when we have an all clear and as soon as we have a plan for when we’re going to have classes,” he said.

For nearly 18,500 Broward residents who evacuated to the county’s hurricane shelters, life began to return to normal Tuesday. All evacuees had vacated the shelters, Sharief said, except for 72 residents who remained at a transitional shelter that will close today.

Broward also will get help from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which declared county residents eligible for individual assistance for damages related to Irma. Residents with storm damage and losses can register with FEMA at disasterassistance.gov or by calling 800-621-3362.

Still, some Broward residents remained cut off on Tuesday. Sharief said about 46,000 landline customers in the area of Oakland Park Boulevard and FL-441, and another 234 people in Pompano Beach around Powerline Road cannot make or receive telephone calls, including to 911.

Mostly, Sharief said, she wanted to ensure residents that county officials were working to keep them safe.

“We have made it through this storm, Broward, with zero deaths reported,” she said, urging residents to avoid standing water where downed electrical lines may lurk.


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