Duke Energy expects to restore service by late Friday, if not sooner, to nearly all Carolinas customers who’ve been without power since Tropical Storm Irma.
The company said late Tuesday that it has restored power to 160,000 customers in both states. Nearly 100,000 customers remained without power.
In North Carolina’s Piedmont area, including Charlotte, almost all customers can expect to have power restored by 11 p.m. Thursday, though 95 percent will be restored sooner, according to Duke Energy.
In the N.C. mountains and Upstate South Carolina, customers can expect to have power restored by 11 p.m. Friday. However, 95 percent will be restored sooner, the company said.
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Specific expected restoration times are available at https://news.duke-energy.com/irma.
North Carolina’s hardest-hit counties included Buncombe, Jackson and Macon, while the counties most impacted in South Carolina were Anderson, Greenville, Pickens, Oconee and Laurens, according to Duke Energy.
“Hurricane Irma left behind historic and devastating destruction across the Southeast, in multiple states,” said Tim Tripp, Duke Energy's director of storm response for the Carolinas.
“Duke Energy has all hands on deck,” Tripp said late Tuesday. “We’ve mobilized our Carolinas crews to quickly and safely take care of our Carolinas customers, while simultaneously supporting the massive power restoration effort underway for our Florida customers.”
At the start of Tuesday, 300,000 people woke up without power .
Two deaths, both in South Carolina on Monday, were reported.
Power outages initially affected 77,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina, mostly in the mountains, the state emergency management agency reported. By 1 p.m., that number was 61,576. South Carolina had more than 220,000 people without electricity early Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.
At 6:30 p.m., Duke Energy reported 60,275 customers in South Carolina and 34,900 in North Carolina were without power, including about 5,300 in Mecklenburg County. That totaled 95,165 customers still without power.
South Carolina’s upstate counties of Greenville, Anderson and Pickens were hardest hit within Duke’s territory. In North Carolina, the mountain counties had the most outages, including the Asheville area.
In most locations, Duke said it was still assessing damage and had no estimate as to when power would be restored.
News and law enforcement agencies reported more than 50 downed trees in the western Carolinas, many blocking streets and pulling down power lines. The National Weather Service reported trees down in Charlotte on Hempstead Place, Commonwealth Avenue, Pritchard Street, Beatties Ford Road and Draper Avenue.
The weather service reported maximum wind gusts of 45 mph at Charlotte Douglas International Airport and 44 mph at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, both on Monday evening. Highlands, in the mountains of Macon County, logged a 56-mph gust.
Charlotte’s airport got 1.1 inches of rain from Irma, with most parts of the region and the foothills reporting less than 2 inches. Brevard and Tuxedo, in the North Carolina mountains, got 4 inches of rain.
The weather service reported no flooding, which had been a concern as Irma approached, in the western Carolinas. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which reported wind gusts of 66 mph on its highest peaks, began to reopen roads closed due to high winds.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools opened two hours late on Tuesday and officials said after-school programs would operate on a normal schedule.
The flight-tracking website FlightAware.com reported 73 flight cancellations to or from Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Tuesday. American Airlines had canceled about 350 flights out of Charlotte on Monday because of anticipated winds associated with Irma.
The North Carolina Air National Guard flew missions Monday to move equipment, personnel and supplies from the Midwest to Jacksonville, Florida. Some National Guard crews might later go to the U.S. Virgin Islands.
“All things considered, most of North Carolina has been fortunate in the wake of Hurricane Irma,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Some of our neighbors to the south have not been as fortunate, and we stand ready to help.”
Authorities reported the first death in South Carolina from Irma — a 57-year-old Abbeville County man. He was cleaning limbs and debris outside his home in Calhoun Falls around 3 p.m. Monday when a limb fell on him.
Zhen Tain, 21, died in a crash on Interstate 77 east of Columbia at around 3:15 p.m. Monday. Troopers say Tain crashed into another car and his Ford Mustang flipped, trapping him inside, as heavy rain and high wind gusts lashed Columbia.
South Carolina’s coast reported the worst tidal surge since Hurricane Hugo in 1989, flooding many areas, Charleston’s Post and Courier reported. The nearly 10-foot tide was 4 feet more than normal. The city of Charleston deployed pumps Tuesday morning to the most flooded areas downtown.
Six deaths in Florida have been blamed on Irma and three in Georgia, the Associated Press reported. At least 35 people were killed in the Caribbean.
Correspondent Steve Lyttle contributed