South Florida residents file class action lawsuit against FPL

NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLA. (WSVN) - The work to restore power to South Florida after Hurricane Irma tore up the area continues, as thousands remain without electricity.

Residents in the area said they haven’t seen much work going on, but around 6 p.m., Monday, crews were on scene trying to remedy the situation. A lot of homeowners said they’re upset and this issue could now find itself in court.

Residents in Coral Gables are ready to take Florida Power and Light to court over how long it has taken to get their power back on.

Separately, a first class action lawsuit was filed Monday afternoon. “Florida Power and Light had an obligation, a contractual obligation to provide the service for which it was being paid,” said attorney John Ruiz. “It has failed to do so.”

One issue in that lawsuit addresses a storm charge fee that customers were paying after Hurricane Wilma. A lot of people are asking where the funds to those fees go.

FPL fired back in a statement that reads, “The fact is the City of Coral Gables has for many years resisted FPL’s well-documented efforts to trim trees and harden our electric system. Unfortunately for our customers in that area, they are now paying the price in terms of extended outages due to hundreds of trees that have fallen into our lines.”

As of 9:00 a.m., Tuesday, 17,160 Miami-Dade residents are waiting for electricity to return and around 3,680 Broward County FPL customers remained without power.

In a North Miami Beach neighborhood waiting for power, there are still power lines in the street.

But residents could not be happier after their power came back on, Monday night, after more than a week of being in the dark. “We are elated, and we’re just so sorry that we had to bring the media in to get electricity,” said resident Ruth Smith.

Smith and her husband Harry have lived off Northeast 166th Street in North Miami Beach for 30 years. Harry Smith said they were fed up before their power was finally restored Monday night. “It’s been hell,” he said. “The whole thing’s been hell.”

Since power was restored to his home, Harry said his relief is off the charts. “On a scale of one to 10 — with 10 being the highest — I’d say about a thousand,” he said.

They were among the thousands in South Florida who shared in the same misery after FPL postponed their estimate of having power fully restored to the region from Sunday evening to Tuesday.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Smith before her power was restored. “It makes you wonder what’s going on in Dade County now. After Hurricane Wilma, stuff like this was taken care of days after the hurricane.”

Other Miami-Dade residents still saw power poles in the street, eight days after Irma. In Southwest Miami-Dade, a 7News viewer sent in a photo of a power line hanging low over a street, in the area of Southwest 48th Street and 98th Avenue.

FPL has said they are working as hard as they can to restore the power.

“FPL is committed, and we’re working night and day to get the lights back on,” said FPL spokesperson Florencia Contesse. “We have approximately five percent of our customers in Miami-Dade County that are still without service. We are focused on those customers and getting their lights back on.”

It has gotten so bad for some residents that they have actually gone out and purchased motorhomes to get some kind of comfort.

“Nothing getting done,” said Richard Schmelling. “As far as we can see, there’s nothing getting done.”

Residents said they are frustrated the most about what appears to be a moving deadline to get their power back on. Thankfully, there has been some progress in their neighborhood.


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