A power struggle after the Tallahassee hurricane


Tallahassee is trying to get back on its feet following widespread destruction from Friday’s storms, which could go down in history as the city’s worst tornado outbreak.

Winds of 100 mph and three separate tornadoes caused untold suffering throughout the city, with countless trees, power poles and wires down and numerous homes and businesses damaged or destroyed. Many neighborhood roads, not to mention driveways, were buried in debris, making travel impossible.

Unfortunately, a woman also lost her life when a tree fell on the house.

As of Saturday morning, about 80,000 electric customers in Tallahassee and surrounding communities were still without power. A large number of field workers have descended on the area to help in the restoration of electricity.

Here’s the latest:

The State’s HOPE Navigators and their HOPE Bus will be stationed at Sabal Bam Primary School. 2813 Ridgeway St., to 6 p.m. on Saturday (May 11), according to the school’s notification.

Tar, water, snacks, wipes and additional resources are available. Hope Bus is operated by the Department of Children and Families in partnership with Volunteer Florida to help those in need.

The American Red Cross has opened a “Welcome Center” at its Tallahassee headquarters. 1115 Easterwood Dr.It offers air conditioning, power, information and more, it posted on its Facebook page.

Also, “If you have sustained damage and need emergency assistance, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) to notify us.”

The Leon County government announced on Saturday that it had opened “three distribution points with bottled water and shelf-stable food”:

  • J. Louis Sr. Woodville Park and Recreation Complex, 1492 J. Lewis Hall Sr.
  • Jane G. Sal’s Fort Braden Branch Library, 16327 Blountstown Highway.
  • Appalachian Regional Park, 7550 Appalachian Parkway.

“All sites will be working in coordination with County Office of Resource Stewardship staff. Operations will be assessed daily throughout and recovery efforts will continue,” according to a news release.

City electric teams and more than 200 mutual aid workers from 25 utilities across the state and country are working to bring power back to Florida’s capital city.

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“City and mutual aid crews worked overnight and reinforcements began working at 6 a.m.,” the city wrote in an early morning update. “Power crews have restored service to 22,202 customers, and solid waste crews have resumed normal operations this morning.”

City officials say they aim to restore 75% of customers by 8pm today, May 11, and 90% by 8pm on Sunday, May 12.

After energizing most residences and businesses, things will slow as crews dig into individual neighborhoods affected by large tree, power pole and line damage. Things get even more complicated when trees damage individual homes and businesses and damage their power grid infrastructure.

Check out our outage tracker Here’s a look at who is out of power in the state.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that 85% would reset tonight.

There is no keeping the bar down.

The Southern Shakespeare Company announced Friday evening that its production of “The Winter’s Tale” would move to Westminster Oaks for Saturday and Sunday after storms damaged equipment at Adderley Amphitheater.

But first there will be a cleanup at Cascades Park on Saturday, May 11 at 9 a.m. at the Adderley Stage. Volunteers are needed. People and garbage trucks who can safely travel to Cascades Park are especially appreciated.

Read the full story here.

More than 80,000 electricity customers in Leon and nearby counties were left in the dark Saturday morning after a day of high winds and an apparent tornado ripped through the area.

The city of Tallahassee, which is updating customers via text on its restoration efforts, said Friday night that circuits serving downtown state offices, Florida A&M University, the Civic Center and FSU’s Mack Lab had been repaired.

“City and Mutual Aid crews will continue to work through the night to make repairs as total customers near 10,000 restored,” the city said. “All the substations are energized now and mutual aid crews will arrive (Saturday).”

As of 7:30 a.m. Saturday, the city’s outage map showed 525 outage orders affecting 64,762 customers. Power outages were located across the city.

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As work continued, residents took to Facebook to inquire about their neighborhoods without power.

“There is no expected restoration time, but crews will be working around the clock until everyone has power restored,” a city official wrote in a thread. “Outages ranging from large to small will occur. But prepare to be without power through the weekend. We appreciate your patience during restoration.”

Mayor John Dailey said in a video update on social media Friday evening that the storm was one of the worst to hit Tallahassee in the past decade, packing winds of 80 to 100 mph and packing three tornadoes. But because of so much damage, it will take some time to restore power, Dailey said.

“I ask for your patience,” Dailey said. “We’re going to get through this together.”

Talquin Electric, which serves Gadsden, Leon, Liberty and Wakulla counties, had 10,595 customers affected by the Saturday morning outage. Sears, Woodville and Lake Dalquin are the areas with the most outages.

Tri-County Electric Cooperative in Madison said nearly 8,000 meters were without power after the storm cleared the area Friday. As of Friday night, power was restored to all but 2,480 meters. TCEC said Madison County still has 1,154 meters, Jefferson County has 896 meters and Taylor County has 430 meters.

TCEC said its staff and more than 80 mutual aid workers will work Friday night “when it is safe to do so” and resume repairs at sunrise Saturday.

“Our majority system restoration time of 9:00 p.m. Saturday remains the same, but we are working to restore much earlier,” TCEC spokeswoman Kaitlynn Culpepper said.

The city of Tallahassee said Friday evening that mutual aid crews from Ocala, Havana, Dothan, Alabama, and Thomasville and Cairo, Georgia were on site to make repairs. Crews from Orlando, Jacksonville and Lakeland were expected to move “at any minute.”

Tallahassee electric customers can report outages and view updates on the city’s restoration efforts www.talgov.com/you/outage. Outages can also be reported by calling 850-891-4968.

Nature revealed its best and worst side on Friday.

As tornado warnings blew, Tallahassees woke up in a panic. Scenes of widespread destruction dominated social media news feeds throughout the day.

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As night fell, residents shared photos of the Northern Lights above Florida’s capital, sparking awe.

Facebook turned pink and purple streaked across the night sky as residents ventured outside — often from homes without power — to capture a vivid view of a rare event never before seen in Tallahassee.

If you missed it, you might have another chance to see it tonight. Click the full story for details.

National Weather Service crews confirmed three radar-tagged tornadoes across Tallahassee today that caused major damage to the city and its power grid.

Wright Dobbs, a meteorologist with the Weather Service in Tallahassee, said three separate radar-indicated tornadoes hit the city as a powerful line of tornadoes around sunrise. Debris signatures from all three storms were seen on radar, prompting successive tornado warnings.

“That’s usually a sign that there was a tornado on the ground,” Dobbs said. “Not always, but in most cases it is. So … we had three radar-confirmed tornadoes. We still need to do more research to confirm those survey results that were determined this afternoon.

An unconfirmed tornado moved north of Talquin Lake, south of Interstate 10, and hit Florida State and Florida A&M University campuses, Dobbs said. A second possible twister may have started over Talquin Lake and moved south of Highway 20, the Capital Circle and south of Tallahassee.

“The second radar that passed through the southern parts of the city approached the other one,” Dobbs said.

A third possible tornado, which may have formed over Talquin Lake, moved over the Apalachicola National Forest, leaving a debris signature just before the Crawfordville Freeway.

Dobbs said the weather service issued severe thunderstorm warnings for winds of 60 to 70 mph, but isolated areas could have gusts of 80-100 mph.

“One thing that could make (surveys) a little bit more challenging is that there was a tornado, but we looked at a lot of areas. Vorticity lines can do the same damage as a tornado, so we’re going to examine these areas to see what it ultimately is.”

Contact Jeff Burlew at [email protected] or 850-599-2180.

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