CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - Duke Energy crews are stationed in western North Carolina awaiting deployment to begin power restoration operations.
Duke Energy Spokesperson Lee Freedman said as of Friday morning about 285,000 customers have lost power in the Carolinas.
Based on projections from the energy company’s meteorologist, one to three million customers could be without power by the time the storm is over and there are about four million total Duke customers in the Carolinas, said Freedman.
While the initial outages may be due to wind damage to power poles or branches falling on power poles, Freedman says he expects more outages in the coming days to be caused by flooding.
“It’s a slow-moving storm and we expect hundreds of thousands of outages over the next few days due mostly to flooding,” said Freedman.
Duke has 20,000 employees ready to respond to outages in the Carolinas and crews will begin restoration operations as soon as conditions improve.
“You need to let the storm pass through before crews can get out and make repairs,” said Freedman.
Specialized crews will be out removing debris that could inhibit repair crews working on downed power lines.
Crews will also be using a Marsh Master to be able to reach power poles in swampy, flooded areas that are hard to access like backyards.
The use of a Marsh Master also helps crews avoid having to climb power poles in slick, wet conditions.
Duke has additional employees working at the Customer Contact Center at their Downtown office in order to handle the flood of calls from customers affected by outages due to Hurricane Florence.
The energy company is adjusting employees’ schedules and giving them overtime when necessary as well as asking employees who are not usual call center staff, like accountants, lawyers, and engineers to work at the call center.
“The goal is to respond to all of our customers who are in need of service,” said Freedman.
The Customer Contact Center is expected to keep the expanded staff operational until at least until Tuesday but will be expanded longer if needed and will be open 7 a.m. – 11 p.m. each day.
Full restoration of power is expected to take “not hours or days but weeks,” said Freedman.