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More Than 7,000 Utility Customers Waiting For Power

Thousands of city utility customers remained without power nearly six days after Hurricane Hermine, and the political atmosphere is growing more charged.

By 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, the city’s utility webpage reported 7,260 customers remained without power.

At an emergency city council meeting yesterday, a handful of residents complained. But an exasperated Commissioner Scott Maddox said the solution would be to cut down all the trees or harden the system.

“To go back and retrofit is in the billions of dollars. To do that, we would have to raise everyone’s electric rates a great deal over a long period of time.”

Utility managers say they’ve restored power at a much faster rate than 30 years ago, the last time a category 1 hurricane struck.

But that's not satisfying incoming Senate appropriations chairman Jack Latvala, a Clearwater Republican. News outlets were reporting that Latvala intends to investigate the city's storm response and whether local utilities are up to the job.

A Miami native, former WFSU reporter Jim Ash is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years of experience, most of it in print. He has been a member of the Florida Capital Press Corps since 1992.