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John Dailey warns of delays in restoring power due to more severe weather


If line workers are delayed by the storm, they will be back on the job as soon as it is safe to do so, Dailey said. He also addressed the city's backlog of outages.

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Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey says he doesn't believe any storm caused more damage than Friday.

“The destruction we saw is historic,” he said in a phone interview Monday afternoon with USA TODAY NETWORK-Florida.

And another severe storm raged over the city, expected to meet Winds of 75 mph, flooding and ping pong ball-sized hail are possible later in the day.

Dailey warned that power restoration could be temporarily delayed due to the impending storm. He said there are two things to consider when it comes to service delays.

“The first issue will be the delay in getting crews to actually get out and do the work,” he said. “In addition, there is always the possibility that a race track that we have simply dismantled will be destroyed again.”

But he said if the hundreds of line workers were disrupted by the storm, they would return to work immediately when it was safe to do so.

“We’re going to keep going and keep going throughout the evening and into the morning,” Dailey said.

However, not nearly as many residents are without power as in the hours immediately after several tornadoes struck the area. The city of Tallahassee announced just after 9 p.m. Sunday that it had restored power to 91% of its customers.

Yet there are thousands of residents without electricity. Some have tarps on their roofs, if they have roofs at all. Some have totaled cars.

“Personal safety comes first,” Dailey said. “If you don’t feel comfortable where you live, I strongly encourage you to go to a friend’s house, a family member’s house, or one of our animal shelters here in Tallahassee.”

The Capital Area Chapter of the American Red Cross, in coordination with Leon County and the Florida Division of Emergency Management, has opened an emergency shelter at the Al Lawson Center, 1800 Wahnish Way, according to city spokeswoman Alison Faris.

Additionally, the American Red Cross Reception Center at 1115 Easterwood Drive will remain open and operational Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“The reception center will serve as a refuge for those in need, providing basic amenities such as air conditioning, phone charging stations, access to water and snacks, as well as assistance and local resources to support them in their recovery efforts,” Faris wrote in a text.

“Historic” storms are becoming more and more common

Friday's storm is not the only recent weather phenomenon to cause devastating damage in the region.

A storm system dropped more than 10 inches of rain on areas of Tallahassee last month, flooding streets and buildings and leaving some people stranded. Because of its rarity and sheer amount of rain, officials are calling it a “bicentennial storm.”

When asked about the recent string of historic storms, Dailey pointed out that the city hasn't even reached hurricane season yet, which is expected to be hyperactive and begin in June.

“The question is what’s going on in the climate,” he said. “These storms are becoming more frequent and more severe.”

It raises even more questions for Tallahassee and surrounding communities, Dailey added.

“We need to go back to society and as cities and towns across the United States and re-evaluate our standards for what we build and plan,” he said.

At least for hurricanes, he emphasized, you can plan days in advance. This is not the case with tornadoes and torrential rains.

“That said, I think the city has done a fantastic job,” Dailey said. “Especially the great men and women of our utility department and our first responders who are keeping us safe and responding to this current event. And we’ll just keep going.”

Live updates on Monday's storm: Tallahassee tornado updates: Schools close early as new threat of severe weather threatens

More on restoring power in Tallahassee: After the Tallahassee power grid exploded, there was an overloaded outage map around the clock

Dailey fixes outage card delays

The city of Tallahassee's outage map has lagged in recent days, lagging far behind the state's Public Service Commission in reporting repairs.

“Look, we're recovering fast enough that the system has to catch up,” he said. “I would say it's a good thing we're restoring power faster than the computer system can keep up.”

Dailey said regardless of the map, the city has “still been communicating very aggressively and proactively with the public about exactly where the damage is and where we are working.”

“I don’t have time to worry about a computer program. “I’m focused on restoring power to the people,” he said.

This reporting content is supported through a partnership with Freedom Forum and Journalism Funding Partners. USA TODAY Network-Florida First Amendment reporter Douglas Soule can be reached at DSoule@gannett.com.

Anna Harden

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