Florida Evacuees Anxiously Await Storm’s End To Begin Assessing Damage

CHICAGO (CBS) — Millions of people who evacuated Florida before Hurricane Irma pummeled the Sunshine State have been watching the storm with a sense of apprehension, fearing what they’ll find when they return home.

The Reda family lives in Miami, and battled long lines at gas stations and hours of traffic to escape Irma’s wrath. They evacuated to Frank Reda’s former home in Bridgeport, and weren’t planning to return to Miami anytime soon.

“I’m thinking let’s just wait until we know that FPL has turned the power on, the house is up and running, everything is functioning properly, and then we can go home and assess the damage; but I’m in no rush,” Sherie Reda said.

At least 3.6 million homes and businesses in Florida were without power as of Monday morning, according to FPL, the largest electric utility in the state. Illinois was helping out, as Chicago-based ComEd has said they are sending 200 crews to help teams in Florida restore power.

About 40 ComEd employees left in the middle of the storm on Sunday. They said they anticipate facing dangerous situations, with thousands of downed poles and live wires. The line crews took a quick safety training course before heading to Florida.

“A little anxious, a little excited, looking forward to going out there and helping people get their power back on; but also just trying to stay aware, and making sure that I don’t get lax in my view of safety,” ComEd employee Larry White said.

NIPSCO in northwest Indiana also said it sent about 40 crews to Florida on Saturday, and could send more workers there on Monday. The company also recently sent help to Texas after Hurricane Harvey.

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