Duke Energy customers in Carolinas feeling major effects of Hurricane Florence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The number of power outages began to rise sharply today as Hurricane Florence made its way along the North Carolina and South Carolina coasts, bringing strong winds, heavy rain and storm surge. Outage numbers continue to rise – now in the hundreds of thousands.
Latest outage numbers can be found here.
Based on the hurricane’s latest track and the overall forecast, Duke Energy’s modeling continues to project between 1 million and 3 million power outages across the Carolinas.
“We are experiencing a massive storm that is hitting us with high winds and historic amounts of rainfall,” said Howard Fowler, Duke Energy’s incident commander. “The storm is moving slowly. As soon as it clears, our workforce of more than 20,000 is ready to begin restoration.”
Using bucket trucks to repair power lines and other electrical infrastructure in winds greater than 35 miles per hour is not safe for workers, Fowler said.
Power restoration will begin once winds drop below that speed.
It could take weeks – not days – to restore power in the hardest-hit areas, Fowler said.
The company’s restoration workforce is located at 35 staging areas – base camps across the Carolinas from which crews can be quickly dispatched to begin repairs when it is safe to do so.
One of the challenges with Hurricane Florence is that the storm is moving slowly across the Carolinas, and is not due to fully strike some regions for another one to two days.
Early Friday, the coastal North Carolina counties of Carteret, Craven and New Hanover were among the hardest-hit areas.
“This is the worst structural damage to our electrical grid that I’ve ever seen,” said Duke Energy’s Jim Sochacki, a vice president in the company’s distribution division, who has been with the company for 21 years and is currently based at a Morehead City, N.C., staging area.
Both Sochacki and Fowler thanked customers for their patience so far, and urged them to stay away from fallen or sagging power lines which should be considered energized and dangerous.
Storm updates and videos from Duke Energy can be found here:
Customers who experience an outage during the storm can report it by:
Texting “OUT” to 57801 (standard text and data charges may apply).
Calling the automated outage-reporting system at 800.769.3766 for Duke Energy Carolinas customers, and 800.419.6356 for Duke Energy Progress customers.
For storm or power restoration updates, follow Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (Duke Energy).
High water warnings
Heavy rainfall from Hurricane Florence will affect river basins and the operation of the company’s available hydroelectric power plants.
The designs of the company’s dams and current water levels determine the best way to move water through the plants at any given time.
High-water safety reminders
People who live along lakes and rivers, and in other low-lying areas or areas prone to flooding, should pay close attention to local emergency management officials, national weather service and local media for changing weather conditions and rising lake and river levels.
High water conditions can create navigational hazards and the public should use caution and adhere to the advice of local emergency management officials.
For updated lake level information, go to www.duke-energy.com/community/lakes or call Duke Energy’s Lake Neighbor Information line at 800.829.LAKE (5253).