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Reinforcements for power restoration stop in Athens before heading to Florida

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ATHENS, Ala. - As evacuees race out of Florida to seek shelter before Hurricane Irma arrives, contractors are positioning themselves close to the affected areas.

We found a fleet from Chicago through the utility contractor, Intren, heading down to Florida through Athens.

They stopped at three different Athens hotels to spend Friday night: the Holiday Inn Express and Suites, Best Western, and Fairfield Inn.

These hotels are already filling up with evacuees, and Friday the contractors put them at or near full.

"It's been an influx of calls. Everybody's finally getting out of Florida," said Tyler Herrera, Athens Holiday Inn Express General Manager.

The contractors will be back on their way to the Sunshine State Saturday. It's their job to head where Irma hits hardest.

That work will be welcome. CBS Miami reports that Florida Power and Light is expecting the storm to affect 9 million people, or 4.1 million households.

"We are taking this storm seriously and FPL is prepared for this storm," said Juliet Roulhac, a FPL representative. "We are taking several action steps to assure that we will be able to dispatch employees as soon as the storm is settled and it is safe to do work."

In Irma's aftermath, the Intren crews will be there as reinforcements for restoration.

The Tennessee Valley will send them on with what Herrera said is, "A good night's rest before they have to get on the road again. We want them to be as comfortable as possible."

FPL's CEO told CBS Miami, "With these kinds of winds, we are not looking at restoration but actually rebuilding. These kinds of winds can bend metal poles. We are going to see a lot of damage. We are going to see a lot of debris that will unfortunately impact the system and we are going to have to do a lot of cleanup.”