Hurricane Matthew has knocked out power to 850,000. No one is discounting the damage it has done and could still do. But the fact the highest winds near its eye stayed mostly offshore through its strafing run past southern and central Florida Friday morning came as a relief to residents and utility officials alike.
“We’re very fortunate Matthew has not landed along the coastline,” FPL vice president and chief communications officer Robert Gould said. “We would have been talking about a rebuild, not a restoration.”
Sustained winds of 110 mph were measured above the utility’s St. Lucie nuclear plant, which was shut down as a precaution and suffered no known significant damage.
The suspense is not over yet for north Florida, Georgia and the nation’s east coast, but most forecasts see Matthew continuing its coastal tour and circling back into the Atlantic. If it does loop back to Florida, FPL officials say it’s likely as a much weaker storm.
As of 1 p.m., about 639,000 homes and businesses were without power including just over 40,000 in Palm Beach County, FPL said. About 218,000 statewide had power restored.
Most Palm Beach County customers should have power back today and virtually all by Saturday, officials said. As many as 100,000 lost power in the county.
Investments of more than $2 billion in recent years to make its system more durable have helped reduce restoration times, utility officials said.