Business

Here’s how Charlotte businesses are preparing for Irma’s wrath

A chalkboard is decorated with messages regarding the approaching Hurricane Irma as a person reads a sign stating a restaurant is closed in Flagler Beach, Fla., Friday.
A chalkboard is decorated with messages regarding the approaching Hurricane Irma as a person reads a sign stating a restaurant is closed in Flagler Beach, Fla., Friday. AP

Charlotte-area companies are setting up command centers, closing bank branches, delivering water and taking other steps as Hurricane Irma menaces Florida and other Southeastern states.

Here’s a look at some of the efforts:

▪ Duke Energy has opened command centers in Charlotte, Raleigh and St., Petersburg, Fla., to prepare for damage from the storm. Volunteers are prepared to assist with fielding customer calls and other response efforts, and Duke restoration crews from the Midwest are scheduled to travel Saturday to a staging area in Georgia.

▪ Home improvement retailer Lowe’s activated its emergency command center in Wilkesboro before Harvey, the first major hurricane to hit the U.S. this year, made landfall in Texas. The center works to get critical supplies to impacted areas, company officials said. It’s already sent more than 1,600 truckloads of supplies to stores in Florida.

▪ Bank of America has closed hundreds of branches and other administrative centers in Florida for Friday and Saturday. The bank is updating the status of its locations at www.bankofamerica.com.

▪ Grocers from Publix to Food Lion to Harris Teeter are working to restock supplies. Bottled water, for example, has been flying off the shelves in Charlotte ahead of the storm’s arrival.

▪ Charlotte hotels are filling up fast for early next week, when Hurricane Irma is expected to arrive in the Carolinas. As business travelers are canceling events, evacuees are snapping up the vacancies.

▪ Hospitals in the Charlotte area are stocking up on drugs and food to treat patients. Hospital staff is prepared to stay on site if needed. Carolinas HealthCare’s “Mobile Medicine” team, which includes planes, helicopters and critical care ambulances, is also ready to respond, the hospital system said.

▪ Construction sites across Charlotte will be on high alert, but crane operators said their equipment is designed to withstand a sustained Category 3 storm.

▪ Charlotte Motor Speedway has opened its Rock City Campground for evacuees heading north or inland from Hurricane Irma. Evacuees are asked to check in at the ticket office on the second floor of Smith Tower at the speedway’s main entrance.

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