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WFLA News Channel 8
FALSE RUMORS: Electric companies won’t cut power to get you to evacuate
TAMPA (WFLA) – News Channel 8 has been getting a lot of questions about rumors that energy companies are going to cut service ahead of Hurricane Irma to get people to evacuate.
Duke Energy says that information is FALSE. They are trying dispel those rumors.
“Duke Energy is not de-energizing services in any area to expedite evacuations. On occasion, we may de-energize services at the request of emergency management officials. Please remember to adhere to your state and local emergency management for updates and information regarding evacuations,” a statement said.
TECO and Lakeland Eletric say they are battling the same rumors.
“Lakeland Electric will NOT turn the power off. Hurricane Irma may, but we will not! And, if Irma takes the power away, Lakeland Electric will get the power back on,” according to their statement.
Tampa Bay's vulnerability to hurricanes
When the 1921 hurricane hit Tampa Bay, there were 160,000 residents in the 4-county region, most of whom lived in communities on high ground. Today there are 2.8 million residents in the region, and that number is growing by about 50,000 people per year. Most of the population in the 4-county Tampa Bay region lives along the coast in low-lying areas; about 50 percent of the population lives at an elevation less than ten feet. Over 800,000 people live in evacuation zones for a Category 1 hurricane, and 2 million people live in evacuation zones for a Category 5 hurricane, according to the 2010 Statewide Regional Evacuation Study for the Tampa Bay Region. Only 46% of the people in the evacuation zones for a Category 1 hurricane evacuated when an evacuation order was given for 2004's Category 4 Hurricane Charley.
CURRENT WATCHES AND WARNINGS:
- A Storm Surge Warning and Hurricane Warning are in effect for
Monroe Lower Keys, Monroe Middle Keys, and Monroe Upper Keys
Large and potentially catastrophic Hurricane Irma,
located north of the central coast of Cuba, just south of the outer
Straits of Florida, is expected to move west-northwestward this
evening. Thereafter, Hurricane Irma is expected to turn northwest
through the Straits of Florida tonight before crossing the Lower Keys
Sunday morning. Regardless of where Irma makes landfall, all
significant hurricane impact threats are likely late tonight through
Sunday for the entire Florida Keys, including catastrophic and life
threatening storm surge flooding and damaging winds, potentially
extremely high rainfall amounts, as well as a threat of tornadoes.
Tropical storm-force winds have overspread our area with Hurricane
force winds beginning after midnight. Outdoor preparations to protect
life and property should be completed.
For those remaining, Monroe County has opened four refuges of last
resort today. No services will be available. These shelters will
remain open until winds decrease below tropical storm- force. They are
not recovery shelters.
The refuges of last resort are: Coral Shores High School, Marathon
High School, Sugarloaf School, and Key West High School. Consult
www.monroecountyEM.com at 1-800-955-5504 for additional information.