A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

1000 Duke Energy workers headed to restoration efforts from Hurricane Florence, a disaster in motion

Staff report

Duke Energy deployed over 1,000 employees and contract workers from Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana to help with restoration efforts from Hurricane Florence.

The team left yesterday morning from the Florence rest area with 30-40 bucket trucks headed for Raleigh. They are expected to arrive Thursday. From there they will be dispatched to the hardest hit areas in the Carolinas to help restore power in the region.

They are expected to be there for two weeks.

Kentucky Emergency Management is sending two Swiftwater Search and Rescue Teams from the Louisville Division of Fire and Jefferson County Water Rescue Team to North Carolina and is working to assist coastal states with resource requests.

In addition, crews from at least 15 Kentucky electric cooperatives are gearing up to help power restoration efforts in Virginia. They are scheduled to deploy Saturday morning, according to the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives.

Hurricane Florence is fiercely headed for North and South Carolina where more than one million people face mandatory evacuation orders. It carries sustained winds up to 130 mph and the threat of “life-threatening storm surge and rainfall,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

Governors of both states have declared states of emergency, as have the governors of Virginia and Maryland. Tropical storm conditions are expected to hit the southern coast of North Carolina on Thursday with hurricane conditions on Friday. It is now forecast to move south across the middle of South Carolina.

The Hurricane Center says that even with some weakening before it makes landfall, Florence “is expected to remain a dangerous major hurricane as it approaches the coastline.

Rains up to 40 inches are possible in some areas of the Carolinas. Catastrophic flash flooding and significant river flooding are anticipated.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper said in a press conference this morning that tens of thousands of structures are in harm’s way and urged people to be prepared and take refuge in storm shelters opening around the state.

“The storm surge will be higher than many homes,” he warned, and “flooding will be massive.”

He said 2800 National Guard soldiers are on active duty, prisons and jails are being evacuated along with senior facilities, and schools and universities are closed — with many of those facilities in safer areas being opened to evacuees.

He urged people to take the storm seriously and emphasized the “widespread significant impacts of high winds,” the life-threatening nature of the storm, and the anticipation of “sustained rainfall over the weekend.”

The storm “will batter the state for days,” he said.

Power outages are expected across the region.

The biggest challenge and threat for the team from Duke Energy — and others converging on the areas to provide aid and restore power — will be the massive flooding.

The Duke Energy crews gather to take off for the Carolinas:

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