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So if you are like me you survived the storm but may not have power yet. There are over a million Florida residents in much the same situation. Some have flooding and some don't, some have damage to their property and some don't, some have a generator and some don't. The lines for coffee are quite long and hot food is very welcome to those without power. If you have some resources, please consider sharing with your neighbor, take them a cup of coffee or offer your shower or washing machine until they are back up and running.
I also wanted to take a moment of your time to share some helpful information, much like I did prior to the storm.
Traffic Signals: We have hundreds of traffic signals out, it is imperative that you treat these intersections as a 4-way stop. Getting traffic signals operational is a high priority but in the meantime, please be careful!
Lift Stations: If your house is not on a septic tank it is on sanitary sewer. In order for that sewage to travel to a treatment facility is must be pumped by a lift station. If you do not have power there is a good possibility that the lift station for your area does not either. That means that whatever capacity there is in the sewage line is all the capacity your neighborhood has until that lift station either gets power or a generator is hooked up to it to get it operational again (there are a number of trucks pulling generators making the rounds and pumping each in turn currently). All this to say, please conserve water (toilet, shower, washing machine and dishwasher) going into these lines until the lift stations are operational again to avoid a messy consequence in your neighborhood.
Generators: It is crucial that you are not breathing in the fumes of your generator; they are deadly if in a confined space. Please ensure that your generator is in the open air, NOT in the garage or near a window or door so that you don't endanger your family's lives. If you are concerned about the theft of the generator, consider using a bicycle lock to secure it to a post or something similar to your home.
Power Restoration: Duke Energy and OUC are both working diligently to restore power to as many residents as possible as quickly as possible, but it will take some time. As of today, they anticipate all of Central Florida should have power by Sunday, however, this could change! As a reminder, Orange County does not have purview over their operations, but you can check with your respective service provider for updates at https://news.duke-energy.com/irma (800-228-8485) or www.ouc.com (407-423-9018).
Irma clean up and more: For complete information about debris drop-off sites, debris pick-up and answers to your post-storm questions, please visit the County website set up for Irma Recovery here.
Most of all, please be patient as we all recover together (patience is not my best thing either). There may be someone in worse shape than you are or with fewer resources to address their needs. We are blessed to have so many people traveling here to assist with tree removal, debris removal and getting power back up and running. They are working very hard and the task is very large. Please pack your patience and let's get through this together.
District 1 Commissioner, Orange County
201 S. Rosalind Ave., 5th Floor
Orlando, FL 32801