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Lithia residents working together to keep lights on following Hurricane Ian's impacts

Tampa Electric says areas in Polk and Hillsborough counties should expect to wait a couple of more days until the power is restored.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — Walking down Wendel Avenue by Alafia River State Park, large trees are uprooted and tree limbs are scattered across people's front lawns. Neighbors walked around cleaning up the debris, trying to piece back together what they have after the blow from Hurricane Ian.

Home after home, dozens of people living in that area said they lost power and don't expect it to turn back on anytime soon.

Nevertheless, the effort to keep the lights and electricity on can be heard loudly in the neighborhood with the sound of rumbling backup generators at several homes.

"Almost every house I drove by, I heard a generator," Thomas Wyatt said, who lives at the end of the road on Wendel Avenue. "Wednesday evening is about when the power went out here."

Wyatt said he stopped by the area Saturday to help his family members at their house after they lost power. He also said that he rushed over to help save food from the fridge, but was only able to salvage some food from the freezer.

"We came here to get things ready for them from their trip out of town," Wyatt said. "So, getting generators started and the refrigerator going and get cold again, so they can get food put back in, things like that."

Other families living further down the road said they aren't surprised by the loss of power, but they are also relying on backup generators to get through the long days.

Another neighbor near Wyatt said every time his home loses power, it takes days for the energy company to turn it back on. He said he feels left behind when he hears the company restored power to areas by major roadways sooner than his neighborhood further down the back roads.

Despite the downed trees, wires and other debris, Wyatt said he's grateful his family, including his six children, dodged the worst of Ian's path.

"If this thing would've came like they predicted, it wouldn't have been good, not for this area," Wyatt said as he held one of his youngest kids. "God bless the people down there and I hope prayers are with them. It would've been devastating for us if it came here, so I feel really blessed in this area."

Tampa Electric's website says some portions of Polk County and the eastern parts of Hillsborough County, which had more damage due to the storm compared to other areas, should have power restored by Monday night.


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