EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (AP) — Hundreds of Xcel Energy volunteers from Wisconsin and more than a-half dozen other states are arriving in Florida to help restore power lost as Hurricane Irma batters the state.

Nearly 4.5 million homes and businesses across Florida lost power, and utility officials said it will take weeks to restore electricity to everyone. Some of the 40 volunteers from the Eau Claire area gathered at Xcel offices Sunday to begin their journey south. The volunteers hope to begin work early this week and plan to stay 10 to 14 days, but longer if necessary.

Irma’s center was about 60 miles (100 kilometers) north of Tampa early Monday, though in a much-weakened state. The U.S. National Hurricane Center says Irma is expected to become a tropical storm later Monday.


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