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MIAMI-Although Hurricane Wilma was not unexpected, the force of its wrath was much greater than anticipated. After hammering the West Coast of the state, it arrived as a Category 3 on the heavily populated East Side, cutting a 180-mile-wide swath through Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.

Florida Power & Light Co. reports that more than 3.2 million residential and business customers are without power and says full restoration could take up to four weeks. The hurricane left “the most customers interrupted from any single event in the company’s history,” said Armando Olivera, FPL president, during a conference call.

According to published reports, the Brickell business corridor here is among the hardest hit. Windows were torn away from Greenberg Taurig’s headquarters at 1221 Brickell Ave., witnesses reported, as were those along the southern facade of 19-story Colonial Bank Center at 1200 Brickell Ave., a class A facility recently acquired by Birmingham, AL-based Colonial Properties Trust.

Blown out windows are also reported at Stiles’ Bank of America Tower in Fort Lauderdale. Windows on the west side of Broward Financial Center there are also reportedly shattered.

Construction cranes at the Westin Diplomat Hotel in Hallandale and at the Community Foundation Building in Downtown West Palm Beach were reportedly toppled. Part of the roof of the Comeaux building on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach came off, and many restaurant windows were blown out along this popular entertainment venue. The lack of power has brought Downtown businesses here and in Fort Lauderdale to a standstill for the day.

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