SEBRING — Six Duke Energy trucks congregated at the County Club Estates clubhouse about 11 a.m. Tuesday to begin removing and replacing a dozen power poles that had blown down Monday morning in Hurricane Irma’s 100-plus mph winds.
Poles were lying across County Road 635 south of the housing community. On the north end of the road, power lines were lying on the road.
A Duke lineman said workers were waiting until the company ascertains whether any lines are still hot. Cars and trucks were driving past the poles and over the lines.
In a Highlands County Commission meeting Tuesday, Emergency Management Coordinator Scott Canaday said he pressed some of the seven power companies that serve Highlands County, but they would not specify when they would turn on power.
An assessment team was expected Wednesday. Then power would be restored to the greatest priorities first: hospitals, schools, businesses, and then residences. The bottom line — power won’t return to most neighborhoods until at least Friday, and more likely longer than that, Canaday said.
Schools will be out all week, Commissioner Don Elwell said.
Canaday said he would participate in a conference call with Gov. Rick Scott and the power companies at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday at the new sheriff’s office.
On Monday, Congressman Tom Rooney visited the Emergency Operations Center on George Boulevard. He told officials that coastal communities are getting most of the attention of the state and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
FEMA also visited the EOC, Canaday said. They are sending National Guardsmen-equipped bulldozers and dump trucks.
“We had 20 roads washed out,” Canaday said.