Duke Energy customers in Carolinas feeling major effects of Hurricane Florence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The number of power outages began to rise sharply Friday 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 and are now in the hundreds of thousands.
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: www.dukeenergyupdates.com