Photo via NOAA
Hurricane Ian is inching closer to Fort Myers at near Category 5 strength
, and the effects can already be felt across the Tampa Bay area.
In Hillsborough County, more than 5,000 residents were without power as of this morning.
From South Tampa to North Tampa over to Plant City and Riverview, Tampa Electric Company has reported
several major outages.
"Once the storm has passed and it is safe, a full assessment of the damage will begin, and restoration will begin," TECO wrote on its website. "After the damage has been assessed, we will work around the clock to restore power as quickly and safely as possible, giving emphasis to address public safety, law enforcement, and essential services. While we will work for rapid restoration, please be prepared for extended outages."
Tampa Electric has about 3,000 workers from a dozen states poised to help restore power after the storm passes, the company said.
In Pinellas County, Duke Energy reported
over 1,000 outages in Tampa Bay this morning, but the numbers are growing seemingly by the minute. Most of the outages were reported in the Belleair Beach area, Pinellas Park, Downtown St. Petersburg and South St. Pete.
"Crews will be making repairs in areas where conditions allow," Duke wrote on its website. "In the central portions of the state, where impacts are anticipated to be the most significant, crews will be standing by. As conditions improve, damage assessment will begin. Remember to stay safe, avoid all downed power lines."
Power lines are already beginning to fall in Tampa. This morning, Tampa Police Department said
that Hillsborough Ave. between 22nd St. and 30th St. are shutdown due to a snapped power pole with a power line in the roadway.
As part of the state's emergency response, Florida Power and Light has nearly 16,000 workers set up
in 24 staging areas around the state.
Remember, don’t drive or walk on flooded roads or near fallen objects, downed electrical wires and weakened structures.
As of this morning, Hurricane Ian's eye was headed for Venice and Fort Myers with sustained winds of 155 mph. But bands of rain and wind from the storm have been lashing Tampa Bay since last night.