Florence power outages in the Charlotte area leave thousands in the dark Monday

Hundreds of thousands of people remained without power Monday morning in the Carolinas due to Hurricane Florence’s wind and rain, including 12,312 in Mecklenburg County, said Duke Energy.

In total, more than 400,000 Duke Energy customers across North and South Carolina remained without power at 5 p.m. Sunday, the Charlotte-based utility said in its last update.

In the Charlotte region, the largest clusters of power outages included 3,500 in Montgomery County, 1,500 in Anson County, just under 1,000 in Union County, 900 in Lancaster County and just over 400 in Gaston County, Duke said.

Most of the outages in the state remain in eastern coastal counties, which were hit hard by flooding and heavy rain that downed trees. Flood waters were making it more challenging for Duke Energy crews to restore energy in those areas, the company said.

Coastal Carteret County has 24,000 outages Monday morning, and New Hanover County has more than 80,000, Duke Energy says.

The company’s power outage map can be viewed online at at www.duke-energy.com/outages/current-outages.

By Monday morning Duke said it had restored power to more than 1 million customers across the Carolinas.

Duke’s process for restoring power includes first assessing damage from either the ground or air. Duke said it prioritizes “critical infrastructures” such as hospitals when determining where to go first. The local utility works first on “main distribution lines,” then feeder lines that provide power to subdivisions, homes and businesses.

In hard-hit areas, Duke said in a statement Sunday, restoration could take weeks “due to widespread damage to power lines, utility poles and other key components of the electric grid.”

Florence was downgraded to a tropical depression early Sunday morning, and had gained speed to 8 mph as it moved west with sustained winds of 35 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Duke had estimated between 1 million and 3 million of its 4 million residential and business customers across North and South Carolina could lose power due to the storm. On Sunday, Duke said 1.25 million customers had lost power at some point during the storm, and that additional outages were expected.

Some of those outages could last weeks, depending on how long it takes for line technicians to safely make repairs, Duke said.

“Mobilizing our crews into the most affected areas has been one of our biggest challenges because of the rapidly changing road conditions due to flooding,” said Howard Fowler, Duke Energy incident commander, in a statement.

Duke said it has 20,000 workers, including workers from utilities in other states and Canada, ready to restore power when it is safe to do so.

If residents see a power line problem, Duke Energy Carolinas customers should call 800-769-3766 and Duke Energy Progress customers should call 800-419-6356. Duke Energy customers can report outages online here: www.dukeenergyupdates.com.

Duke Energy is urging customers stay away from fallen and sagging power lines, and consider all power lines to be energized and dangerous.

Outages across the network of 26 local electric cooperatives in North Carolina, which serve parts of 93 counties, total 239,000, down from a peak of 326,000 Saturday morning, according to a statement Sunday evening from N.C. Electric Cooperatives.

The state’s Electric Cooperatives outage map can be viewed at https://outages.ncelectriccooperatives.com/outages/maps.

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