Gulf Power, which has more than 460,000 customers in the Florida Panhandle, said it’s preparing for the possibility that system will have to be rebuilt in the areas hardest hit by Hurricane Michael, delaying power restoration efforts.

Hurricane Michael made landfall on the Florida Panhandle near Panama City on Wednesday afternoon as a Category 4 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph. The storm is expected to pass through the state stretching from Crestview in the west to Tallahassee in the east.

“Northwest Florida has never encountered a storm of this magnitude,” said Gulf Power spox Jeff Rogers. “In the hardest hit areas, the possibility exists that we will be rebuilding our system while we are restoring power. Customers in the high impact areas could be without power for weeks. We’re estimating that 225,000 customers could be without power after Michael passes through.”

The high winds brought by the storm will keep Gulf Power’s lineworkers — including more than 2,600 out-of-state personnel, 1,187 employees and 330 contractors — grounded until the worst is over.

“Crews will restore power until winds reach 30 mph when it becomes unsafe for them to be up in buckets,” Rogers

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