Hurricane Irma Aftermath: Latest On Power Outages, Disaster Assistance, Food Distribution, Debris Pickup​ In Tampa Bay

TAMPA, FL — More Tampa Bay residents are finding: their power returning at their homes; getting gas for their vehicles was easier; restaurants and stores had reopened, though selections of some items were not available. Some residents won’t have to suffer in the Florida heat too much longer.

Tampa Electric officials say they will have power to customers affected by the hurricane by Sunday, at the latest. Duke Energy says their customers will have their power back Friday night. As of Friday afternoon, the utility has restored service to 93 percent of the 425,000 customers who lost power during Irma.

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Watch: Hurricane Irma’s Destructive Journey By The Numbers

The utility said customers can receive Power Updates to report outages and receive texts, emails or phone calls about your service by signing up.

TECO officials said that as workers restore power, some may experience a brief power outage as other customers are returned to service.

Disaster Assistance Available For Tampa Bay Residents

Tampa Bay residents whose employment or self-employment was lost or interrupted as a result of Hurricane Irma can apply for disaster assistance payments.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is available to people who:

Worked or were self-employed or were scheduled to begin work or self-employment Are not able to work or perform services because of physical damage or destruction to their place of employment as a direct result of Hurricane Irma Do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits from any state Cannot perform work or self-employment because of an injury as a direct result of Hurricane Irma Became the breadwinner or major supporter of a household because of the death of the head of household as a direct result of the disaster

DUA is available from weeks of unemployment beginning Sunday, Sept. 10 until Sunday, March 17, 2018, as long as the person’s unemployment continues to be a result of the disaster.

To file a DUA claim, visit www.floridajobs.org or call (800) 385-3920. Customer service representatives will be available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern.

For DUA claims information, call (800) 204-2418 and choose Option 2 to speak to a customer service representative.

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Residents Find Getting Gas Easier In Tampa Area

The GasBuddy website showed only 20 service stations without gas supplies on Friday morning. Four stores were still without power. On Tuesday, GasBuddy showed more than 50 stations with no gas, 12 that didn’t have power and another 45 where the gas products available were limited.

Polk County Lifts Hurricane Irma Curfew

With the lights back on in many areas and life beginning to return to the new post-Hurricane Irma normal, Polk County officials on Friday lifted the mandatory curfew for residents. Jim Freeman, county manager, signed the official order late Friday morning. It went into effect immediately.

“The county’s curfew was established to deter crimes of opportunity, such as looting, and to provide safety for Polk residents in damaged areas,” the Polk County Sheriff’s Office wrote on its Facebook page. Since conditions across the county have improved, Sheriff Grady Judd and Pete McNally, emergency management director, both recommended lifting the order.

Cellphone Service Returning To Normal Levels

Tampa Bay residents also were getting their cellphone service back. The FCC had said that nearly one quarter of all cell sites in the state are without service. That number is down to 13.4 percent.

Pools Re-Open In Sarasota

Sarasota area residents ready to dive into cool water to beat the heat will find two of the city’s pools set to serve them. The city said the Lido pool opened for business on Friday morning and will now run on its normal schedule. The Robert L. Taylor Community Complex Poll is set to reopen on Sept. 16. The pool will operate on its normal hours, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., starting Saturday.

Hillsborough Libraries Offer Assistance To Residents Without Internet Access

Hillsborough County residents in need of resources to help them recover from Hurricane Irma’s effects may find the assistance they’re after at their local library. The county announced Friday that most libraries have power, computers and all-important internet access to help residents file applications for FEMA assistance, and to locate other resources that might be available to them.

“Libraries’ staff is ready to assist residents (with) a wide range of resources,” Kara Walker, county spokeswoman, wrote in a Friday morning email to media.

Most libraries in the county will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Libraries that will be closed include Egypt Lake, Norma and Joseph Robinson Partnership, Seminole Heights, Town ‘N Country and West Tampa. To find the closest open branch, visit Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Libraries online.

Debris Collections Start Monday In Hillsborough, Pasco Counties

Debris cleanup in the Tampa area continued Friday. In Hillsborough County, residents cleaning up their yards can start disposing of vegetative storm debris as yard waste collections, a county media release said.
Due to the extent of storm debris created from Hurricane Irma, contracted yard debris collection will start on Monday. Residents should have yard waste placed in piles along the right of way for collection by Monday. Do not block access to storm water drains, utility boxes, or roadways.

As storm debris is being collected, the trucks will be working systematically throughout neighborhoods. The trucks may have to make several passes through the neighborhoods over the next several weeks due to the extent of storm damage, and to ensure the removal of all storm debris put out by residents.

County yard waste facilities are operating under extended hours, Monday through Saturday from 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Residents must show a valid Florida driver’s license to receive free yard waste disposal. Yard waste facilities open are:

Falkenburg Road – 346 N. Falkenburg Road, Tampa 33619 Northwest County – 8001 W. Linebaugh Ave, Tampa 33625 South County – 13000 U.S. Highway 41, Gibsonton 33534 Hillsborough Heights – 6209 County Road 579, Seffner 33584 (opened Wednesday)

In Pasco County, the Solid Waste and Resource Recovery Department, will begin debris removal starting Monday.

In preparation for the removal, Pasco County homeowners must have all debris materials brought to the curb or roadside for pickup. Residents should be aware and be careful not to block fire hydrants, mailboxes, electrical boxes or any other structures. Contractor generated debris will not be picked up. Additionally, do not bag debris and refrigerators should be empty, with the doors secured or removed. Requests for debris pickup must be submitted to Pasco County Customer Service Center by emailing customerservice@pascocountyfl.net, providing the address where the debris is located. Residents can also call customer service at 727.847.2411.

Debris must be separated into the following categories:

Furniture: Mattresses, couches, sofas, chairs, dressers, lumber (if not pressure treated), particle board, laminated flooring, dry insulation (if wet, pile with construction), carpet and padding.

Construction: drywall, plasterboard, ceramic tile, concrete, lumber (pressure treated) and wet insulation.

Tampa Bay’s First Responders Can Get Free Admission To USF Game

For USF’s football team, safety came first when deciding to cancel their trip to Storrs, Conn., to play UConn because of Hurricane Irma. Now, USF is looking to give back to the folks that helped keep Floridians safe in the hurricane and for high school football programs who are experiencing cancelled games this weekend.
The University of South Florida will provide complimentary admission to its Friday game against Illinois for first responders and their families, as well as to Florida high school football teams. The nationally-televised contest was previously designated #BayMade Youth Football Night with many area youth football teams expected to be in attendance.

“It’s all about giving back, said USF head coach Charlie Strong. “We want to make sure that everyone is working to give back and get their life (together). It’s going to take a while, we know that. When things happen, we just want to make sure people understand that we do understand. We’re not going through what they’re going through, but we can help them get through what they’re going through.”

Food Distribution Sites Open in Hillsborough County

Hillsborough County residents in need of food or wanting to donate some to help others following Hurricane Irma have places to turn.

The county on Thursday announced the opening of several distribution sites in conjunction with Feeding Tampa Bay. Several collection sites have also been announced for those with supplies to donate.
According to the county, the following distribution sites will be available for those in need:
Friday, Sept. 15

Village Presbyterian, 13115 S. Village Drive, Tampa, from 9:30 to 11 a.m.

Saturday, Sept. 16

University Area Community Development Center, 14013 N. 22nd St., Tampa, from 9 to 10:30 a.m.

Feeding Tampa Bay is also coordinating efforts to collect supplies and food for those in need. Supplies request include canned, ready-to-eat items with pull tops; protein in pouches or pull-top cans, such as tuna, chili, chicken or stew; snacks; peanut butter; toiletries; paper goods; cleaning supplies and diapers.

Cash donations are also being accepted. A single $1 donation to Feeding Tampa Bay helps create “10 meals for people in need,” according to the county. To find out more about donating, visit Feeding Tampa Bay online.
To find a full list of collection sites, visit Feeding Tampa Bay online.

Polk County Reminder On When To Call 911

Polk County Fire Rescue officials are asking residents to use 911 only in true emergencies as calls continue to spike following Hurricane Irma’s run through the region. The agency reports its daily call volume has more than doubled since the storm from about 200 calls a day countywide to an average of 500 calls daily. “The highest increase in calls is linked to stress-related illnesses, such as high blood pressure, chest pain and anxiety,” Kevin Watler, agency spokesman, said Friday. “There has also been an increase in hand and foot injuries, so people are encouraged to wear proper shoes and gloves as they clean up debris.”

Photo: Tampa Bay residents were finding more selections of items at grocery stores. Photo by Patch Editor Don Johnson.

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