This story was updated on Thursday at 4:00 p.m.
Nearly 15,000 N.C. electric cooperative customers were without power Thursday afternoon along the North Carolina coast as the effects of Hurricane Florence hit the Carolinas.
Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative reported nearly 13,000 members without power around 4 p.m., according to the co-ops outage map. About 9,400 of those outages were in Carteret County, which includes Morehead City.
Tideland Electric Membership Corporation reported another 1,400 members affected, about 1,100 in Pamlico County.
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Jones-Onslow Electric Membership Corporation reported 355 members without power.
The outages continued to fluctuate with more expected as conditions worsen along the coast.
The Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative had posted on its Facebook page the day before that it is often asked when it will cut off the power in anticipation of a hurricane. “We don’t do that; Mother Nature does. However, we will work as quickly and safely as possible once conditions allow to bring the lights back on after the storm passes.”
Want to check for power outages across the Carolinas?
Santee Cooper in South Carolina customers:
Duke Energy said Wednesday it expects between 1 million and 3 million of its customers in the Carolinas will lose power because of Hurricane Florence and its aftermath.
The company serves 4 million residential and business customers in North and South Carolina.
Duke has 20,000 workers, including workers from utilities in other states, dispersed across the Carolinas to restore power after the storm, David Fountain, Duke Energy North Carolina’s president, and Duke’s storm directer Howard Fowler told reporters.
“We are ready to attack this storm and restoration” when it is safe to do so, Fowler said. It could take a couple of days for the storm to clear before workers have the opportunity to go into areas and assess damage, he added, meaning power could be out for an extended period of time in some areas.
Currently, more workers are deployed in coastal areas, according to Duke.
Earlier, Duke Energy urged its customers in Charlotte and across the Carolinas to prepare for power outages that can last multiple days.
“The high winds expected with Hurricane Florence will cause widespread damage and power outages and restoration will be a challenge because of downed trees, extensive damage to power equipment, flooding, etc,” said Duke spokeswoman Meghan Miles, adding “repairs will be lengthy and difficult.”
The National Hurricane Center places the odds that Charlotte will see sustained tropical storm-force winds of 39-73 mph at about 50 percent to 60 percent over the next five days, according to Wednesday morning projections.
Duke Energy Carolinas serves customers in Charlotte and western North Carolina and the Upstate of South Carolina. Duke Energy Progress serves customers in eastern North Carolina and northeastern Pee Dee region of South Carolina.
Duke would not provide Charlotte-specific information about potential outages. The Duke Energy power outage map can be viewed at https://www.duke-energy.com/outages/current-outages-m. If residents see a power line problem Duke Energy Carolinas customers should call 800-769-3766cq and Duke Energy Progress customers should call 800-419-6356cq.
“With the winds and amount of rain we’re going to see, we’re going to have trees down, power lines down,” Charlotte Fire Department Chief Reginald Johnson said on Wednesday. “We’re going to lose power. Be prepared to be without power for three-four days.”
Duke cautioned Carolinas residents to stay away from downed power lines and to treat all power lines as being live, including any trees or structures in contact with the power lines.
“If a power line falls across a car that you’re in, stay in the car,” Duke advised. “If you must get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.”
To prepare for the storm, power crews from other areas not expected to be affected by Hurricane Florence have been moved to the Carolinas, according to Duke. That includes crews from Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Florida.
North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives have also urged its 2.5 million customers to prepare for Florence and warned about the possibility of “prolonged outages.”
The cooperatives encouraged people to make an evacuation plan and assemble an emergency kit, including a three-day supply of non-perishable food, water and medication. Also charge cell phones, secure outdoor items and make sure cars and trucks have fuel.
Piedmont Natural Gas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy also advised its customers to prepare in advance of potential flooding.
According to Duke, for natural gas customers:
“If water enters your home:
- Do not attempt to disconnect or work on or around your natural gas meter.
- Do not attempt to relight any of your natural gas appliances. Call Piedmont at 800-752-7504 so we can inspect your meter and your natural gas appliances for possible damage.
- Do not attempt to clear flood debris from your natural gas meter or from any other natural gas appliance, including your water heater. Call Piedmont for an assessment.
- Never use outdoor equipment indoors for cooking or heating. This includes natural gas grills, generators, etc.”
Staff writers Ely Portillo and Bruce Henderson contributed.