US Airways canceled about half its daily flights. Lowe’s prepared to truck in extra supplies to the Northeast. Duke Energy made 1,200 line workers available to help. Bank of America and Wells Fargo shuttered branches and offices.
While Hurricane Sandy’s biggest impact was hundreds of miles north of Charlotte, Carolinas businesses from banks to home improvement stores were dealing with the massive storm’s impact.
Tempe, Ariz.-based US Airways, with most of its operations concentrated on the East Coast, canceled about 1,600 flights. Delays and cancellations are likely to ripple across the system. Flights to areas outside the storm’s path could be affected, because flight crews and planes from bases such as Philadelphia might have been scheduled to operate the flights.
US Airways spokeswoman Michelle Mohr said 125 flights from Charlotte Douglas International Airport were canceled Monday, more than one sixth of US Airways’ 630 daily flights from Charlotte Douglas. The airport is US Airways’ busiest hub.
Airports in Philadelphia, US Airways’ second-busiest hub, and Washington, D.C., a US Airways focus city, were closed. So are New York-area airports. At Boston and Providence, US Airways operated inbound flights and then ceased operations.
The airline has posted a travel advisory online at www.usairways.com. You can check the status of your flight before heading to the airport.
Charlotte Douglas spokeswoman Lee Davis said the airport is assisting airlines that need to park their grounded planes in Charlotte, and a US Airways flight from Tel Aviv to Philadelphia was forced to land at Charlotte instead on Monday.
Power companies ready
Charlotte-based Duke Energy said it made 1,200 line workers, mostly contractors based in Florida and Indiana, available Monday to help other utilities restore power in Sandy’s wake.
Duke and other utilities have mutual-aid agreements to loan workers where needed to repair storm damage.
Duke and electric membership cooperatives were preparing for high winds and snow late Monday and Tuesday in the N.C. mountains.
“The combination of high winds and snow, and any other moisture, is a good recipe for outages,” said Duke spokesman Randy Wheeless. Fewer than 10,000 outages were reported in Duke’s western N.C. territory on Monday. The National Weather Service says up to 1 foot of snow could fall in parts of the mountains by mid-week.
Line workers directly employed by Duke subsidiaries Duke Energy Carolinas and Progress Energy Carolinas will remain in the Carolinas to deal with any damage.
Electric cooperatives and Duke reported only scattered outages on the N.C. coast during the weekend. Crews from co-ops in southeastern North Carolina were poised Monday to help western co-ops if needed.
Mooresville-based Lowe’s Inc. is preparing to truck in extra supplies to areas hit by Hurricane Sandy, as the home improvement retailer tracks the storm’s progress from its emergency centers in North Carolina.
Terry Johnson, Lowe’s senior vice president of store operations, said demand for emergency items such as generators, flashlights, batteries, lumber and water has been extremely high in the days leading up to the storm.
“We saw it picking up as early as Tuesday,” said Johnson. “We started deploying the product there.”
Lowe’s closed 51 of its 1,745 stores Monday afternoon, but planned to reopen all of them by 6 a.m. Tuesday.
The retailer’s emergency operations centers are located in Mooresville and Wilkesboro, and they’ll be running around the clock during the storm, Johnson said. Once the weather clears, Lowe’s will be sending trucks in with “emergency loads” of needed supplies to sell in its stores.
“We will be quickly deploying products to the stores,” Johnson said. “Field teams based in the market will be assessing those needs.”
Matthews-based Harris Teeter has also prepared for the storm by staging mobile generators along its delivery routes, and delivering additional goods to stores in the mid-Atlantic. The company has closed three of its stores in Delaware until further notice.
Banks on notice
Charlotte-based Bank of America and Wells Fargo each shut down some of their offices in the Northeast as the region prepared for Hurricane Sandy. Trading on major exchanges was halted for Monday and Tuesday.
All New York City branches were closed Monday, as were Merrill Lynch Wealth Management offices in New York and mid-Atlantic states.
The Charlotte bank’s New York headquarters building, One Bryant Park, remained open. Two and Four World Financial Centers were closed. The investment bank is operating with a “skeleton staff,” and many employees are working from home, spokesman John Yiannacopoulos said.
“The safety and security of our employees, customers and clients are the main consideration as we closely monitor the situation, and that will help drive our decision-making,” spokesman Mark Pipitone said in a statement.
Wells Fargo closed more than 200 branches in the Northeast, mostly in New York and Connecticut, spokeswoman Alexandra Ball said.
“We are monitoring the situation closely and have plans in place to ensure there is as little impact to our operations as possible,” Ball said in an e-mail.