POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – As Hurricane Ian was blowing in and knocking down trees, Courtney Rizzuto and others were hopeful their lights would stay on.
She and 27,000 others were still without power still Friday morning. They are forced to charge their phones in cars.
Inside Rizzuto’s apartment, her recent $200 dollar grocery haul was rotting.
“I had to throw a lot of my stuff out. All my dairy and meats that I had to put in here,” she said. “I’m blessed to have a home that hasn’t had destruction but obviously it’s something where you don’t know what is going to happen. You don’t know when the power is going to turn back on.”
A few miles away, we found pictures of the problem. One utility pole was cracked. A metal guy wire slice. Another right down the middle, causing even more damage.
A crew of local and out-of-state linemen walked in like the cavalry but it’ll be up to four more days before everyone is back online.
“I want to encourage customers to stay safe in the meantime. And have a little patience with us. We’re really out there working as quickly as we can,” a lineman told 8 On Your Side.
One victim — a nine-business strip mall that includes a gas station with 7,000 gallons that cannot fill anyone’s tanks without power.
Sonny Patel is one of many business owners who are flustered.
“33 years here and I’ve never lost power. This is the first time,” Patel said.
There is a generator in the strip mall but it’s only strong enough to power one cooler.
Patel has lost customers and cash. He said he’s lost $12,000 to $15,000 a day.
Power outages are scatter accross the area.
Robert Joe Michie was out picking up debris and felt lucky to get his power back after a day and a half.
He’s willing to help his neighbors, especially since getting back on line was potentially life saving for a relative.
“Air condition — Granny needs that. That’s for sure and she’s on oxygen too. So that helps,” Michie said.
Michie had a message for his neighbors. “If they need help or something like that they can come over,” he said.