Thousands of Polk Company residents, business owners face up to 4-day wait for power to be restored

POlk County, Fla. (WFLA) — Courtney Rizzuto and others hope their lights will stay on if Hurricane Ian blows and knocks down trees.

She and 27,000 others were still without electricity on Friday morning. They were forced to charge their phones in the car.

In Rizzuto’s apartment, her recent $200 groceries are rotting.

“I had to throw away a lot. All my dairy and meat had to go here,” she said. “I’m lucky to have a home that hasn’t been damaged, but obviously this is where you don’t know what’s going to happen. You don’t know when the power is going to come back on.”

A few miles away, we found a picture of the problem. A power pole broke. Metal pull tab. The other is right in the middle and does more damage.

A group of local and out-of-state linemen came in like cavalry, but it would take another four days for everyone to be back online.

“I want to encourage customers to stay safe during this time. Have a little patience with us. We’re really working as fast as we can,” a linebacker told 8 On Your Side.

One victim—a shopping center with nine business districts, including a gas station with 7,000 gallons of gasoline, would not be able to fill anyone’s tank without electricity.

Sonny Patel is one of many flustered business owners.

“In my 33 years here, I’ve never lost power. This is the first time,” Patel said.

The strip mall has a generator, but it’s only strong enough to power a cooler.

Patel lost customers and cash. He said he was losing $12,000 to $15,000 a day.

The outages were scattered across the area.

Robert Joe Michie went out picking up pieces and felt lucky to have his strength back after a day and a half.

He’s willing to help his neighbors, especially since getting back online might save a relative’s life.

“Air conditioning – Grandma needs that. That’s for sure, she’s also on oxygen. So that helps,” Mitch said.

Mickey has a message for his neighbors. “If they need help or something like that, they can come over,” he said.

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