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Much of the state has yet to feel the full brunt of the storm as Irma barrelled across the Florida Keys on Sunday morning and rolled up the state's southwest coast with maximum sustained winds of 195km/h, making it a Category 3 storm, the third worst on the Saffir-Simpson scale.

Florida Power & Light Company said that almost 1.1 million customers statewide were without power Sunday morning.

The same applied to the utility's nuclear plant in Jensen Beach.

FPL's nuclear plants are protected by thick concrete and reinforced steel and like many plants around the world were bolstered further after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, Gould said. That's more than half of homes and businesses in the county, a total that has surged more than 600 percent in the last 12 hours.

Duke has spent more than $2.4 billion on similar upgrades since 2004, including using "self-healing" systems to reroute power.

The Juno Beach-based electric utility was restoring power Saturday even as there were outages, with plans to work until winds get too high for safety. Command Center can escape a beating from Hurricane Irma.

"We estimate millions of customers will lose power as a result of Irma", Mr. Gould, the FPL spokesman, said Sunday, adding that crews likely need to set up hundreds of new poles and string thousands of miles of new line.

Florida Light & Power said it had almost 17,000 restoration workers positioned across Florida.


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