Some small branches on the ground were the only sign of Hurricane Idalia's impact at Interlachen Park. | Cindy Glover, LkldNow

City residents heaved a sigh of relief Wednesday after Hurricane Idalia largely spared the Lakeland area, although a tornado watch remains in effect through 3 p.m.

By 10:30 a.m., Lakeland Electric reported that only 23 customers were without power, down from an overnight high of 10,019.

Those numbers may “fluctuate throughout the morning as we continue to have weather bands pass through the area,” Lakeland Electric spokeswoman Cathryn Lacy said. But she said crews worked through the night and would continue to work today to restore the remaining customers. The latest status is available on an interactive map.

Polk County Public Schools Superintendent Frederick Heid sent a message to parents saying area public schools will reopen on Friday as planned.

“Although we had minor impacts to our area, we still need time to do a thorough assessment of our school sites to make sure they are ready for students and staff to return,” he said. “Our staff will visit each school and work site to ensure that they have power, have no damage to the roof or windows, determine if any debris removal is needed, and check for localized flooding/water intrusion.”

He said, countywide, 113 people spent the night in six schools used as shelters.

“By 3 p.m. today we will begin the process of closing school district shelters,” Heid said. However, he added that “residents will still have a shelter available at 1255 Brice Blvd. in Bartow.”

Lakeland Police reported that all traffic signals in the city appeared to be working.

The City of Lakeland and Polk County both reported that trash and recycling are being collected as normal.

LkldNow Senior Reporter Kimberly Moore took a quick tour of downtown Lakeland, which showed no damage.

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Cindy Glover moved to Lakeland in 2021 after spending two decades in South Florida. Her career has included journalism, education, digital marketing and public relations. She worked for the Albuquerque Journal and South Florida Sun-Sentinel and spent a year as a community engagement coordinator for the City of Lakeland before joining LkldNow.

Kimberly C. Moore, who grew up in Lakeland, has been a print, broadcast and multimedia journalist for more than 30 years. Before coming to LkldNow in the spring of 2022, she was a reporter for four years with The Ledger, first covering Lakeland City Hall and then Polk County schools. She is the author of “Star Crossed: The Story of Astronaut Lisa Nowak," published by University Press of Florida. Reach her at or 863-272-9250.

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