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President Trump Will Travel To Florida To Assess Hurricane Damage


And I want to bring in another voice now, NPR's Russell Lewis. He is in Fort Myers, Fla., at our member station WGCU. Hey there, Russell.

RUSSELL LEWIS, BYLINE: Hey. Good morning.

MARTIN: Lack of power, downed electricity lines has been a major problem in those areas affected by Irma. What's the power situation like this morning?

LEWIS: Well, it's certainly improving each day. You know, after the storm, about two-thirds of the state was without power. And as of the last report this morning, a quarter of the state now. So about 2.7 million customers have electricity this morning. You know, that's a big accomplishment to sort of get those numbers down quickly. But, I mean, we have to be, you know, honest. Let's remember that this is Florida, where even though it's the middle of September, it's still hot. It's muggy. You know, the highs in some areas today will be in the 90s, and that's really not easy for anyone to deal with, especially with that humidity. So really in these days after the storm, the risk of the heat-related deaths goes up. Of course, we saw that across the state in Hollywood. Officials are investigating what happened to those eight elderly patients who died in that nursing home after the power knocked out the air conditioning.

So really, you know, restoring the power continues to be a top priority. You know, it's a massive undertaking to try to get the power grid fixed and back up and running. And not only just the issues of the infrastructure, you know, the things like power poles and utility lines and the like. But really, just, you know, some areas were flooded out. And that affects, you know, waiting - having to wait for the water to move out so - to get the crews in. And what we're hearing is that officials hope to have the power restored to the east coast of Florida by Sunday and not until next Friday for the west coast of Florida.

MARTIN: OK. So that's the power situation. What about other forms of infrastructure? What about the roads?

LEWIS: Well, you know, I mean, the roads are slowly sort of coming back. They're still sort of clearing debris off of the roads, inspecting bridges for damage that were hit by flooding, you know. And we know that millions of people were ordered to evacuate ahead of the storm. And really, for some of them, they're just now getting back to their homes in some of the hardest-hit areas.

You know, local officials have told residents to stay away until those roads could be cleared and just general concerns in general. And still, there are 8,000 people that are still in shelters across the state. The situation with gas is improving. There are some gas stations that don't have gas, don't have power. But you're beginning to see some of those problems begin to ease and to get better. And so, you know, you're starting to see improvements, but there's still a long way to go.

MARTIN: President Trump will be there in South Florida today to see what the federal response has been like addressing all those problems. NPR's Russell Lewis in Fort Myers. Thanks, Russell.

LEWIS: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

As NPR's Southern Bureau chief, Russell Lewis covers issues and people of the Southeast for NPR — from Florida to Virginia to Texas, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Oklahoma. His work brings context and dimension to issues ranging from immigration, transportation, and oil and gas drilling for NPR listeners across the nation and around the world.