News Update for 9/29

Hurricane Ian has come and gone in Highlands County, now the damage assessment begins. Reports indicate that rainfall amounts were measured at 12-to 15 inches in some areas of the county.
Authorities also determined there was at least one wind gust of as much as 86 miles per hour in Sebring. However, the extent of damage here has yet to be determined.
Officials say at one time there were better than 52,000 electric customers from Duke Energy and the Glades Electric Cooperative that were without service. That’s better than 80-percent of the households here.
There has been some property damage reported, with citizens indicating they had lost attachment to their homes such as an enclosed patio or porch. Additionally, there are numerous trees and power lines downed.
The good news is at this time there are no injuries reported.
There also is information that during the storm, Sebring municipal firefighters responded to a house fire that may have been caused by a downed power line. However, they were unable to fight the flames because the scene apparently still was energized.
There also was a generator fire reported at a house on Lake Letta, west of Avon Park.
The county and sheriff’s officials were hampered by phone problems in the midst of the storm – having to switch numbers both for the citizens’ information line and the sheriff’s administrative line.
Some 220 people took advantage of the two hurricane shelters that were opened by the county to provide refuge for citizens who live in low-lying areas, or who have non-slab built homes.
Thousands of Duke Energy crews are on hand now to begin restoring electric service. Governor Ron Desantis also called up thousands of Florida National Guard troops to help with the clean-up effort.
For those running generators until power is restored. Officials remind residents to operate generators in well ventilated areas away from garages and living space.
There will be no school this week in Highlands County and it remains unclear when state, county and municipal offices will be open again.
Meanwhile, Highlands remains under a Tropical Storm Warning and a Flood Watch.