CHARLOTTE, NC — Duke Energy estimated Wednesday that up to 3 million customers will lose power because of Hurricane Florence, and that it will take weeks — not days — to be restored.
“The magnitude of the storm is beyond what we have seen in years,” said Howard Fowler, the company’s incident commander. “With the storm expected to linger, power restoration work could take weeks instead of days.”
Forecasters project Florence, a Category 3 storm churning in the Atlantic Ocean, will make landfall sometime on Friday. The storm is expected to wreak havoc on North Carolina and South Carolina, dumping as much as 20-40 inches of rain in some areas.
Should it make landfall as a Category 3 storm, Florence would become the first major hurricane to hit the region since Fran in 1996.
North Carolina and South Carolina have declared states of emergency in advance of the hurricane.
More than 20,000 workers are in place to restore power, the company said in a release, including more than 8,000 based in the Carolinas. About 1,700 workers from the company’s midwest division and 1,200 more from its Florida division are also prepared to respond to this storm. Other utilities have offered up, more than 9,00 additional resources to help.
But Duke customers should plan accordingly for their homes and facilities, the company said. Restoring power after such a massive storm can be extremely challenging for utility repair crews. Travel and work conditions are often impacted by high winds and widespread flooding, so repair work can take some time.
“Despite our workforce, customers should continue to make plans for their homes and facilities,” said Fowler. “It’s important for people to know this is no ordinary storm and customers could be without power for a very long time – not days, but weeks.”
Fowler said it will be a “challenging time” for customers.
Storm updates from Duke Energy can be found here.
The company recommends creating or updating an emergency supply kit, which should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks. This especially includes medicines and other supplies that can be hard to find after a major weather event.
Duke Energy, headquartered in Charlotte, is one of the largest energy holding companies in America, with about 29,000 workers and a generating capacity of 49,500 megawatts.
The company serves about 7.6 million retail electric customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. It also distributes natural gas to about 1.6 million customers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky.
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