Duke Energy warns Hurricane Florence outages could surpass Matthew. Here’s where to call.

Watch this clip of Hurricane Florence’s core

Hurricane Florence gains strength in the Atlantic as it moves toward the southeast coast
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Hurricane Florence gains strength in the Atlantic as it moves toward the southeast coast

Duke Energy is warning that the destruction and power outages from Hurricane Florence could exceed the damage wrought by Hurricane Matthew, which submerged entire towns in eastern North Carolina in 2016.

Charlotte-based Duke, which supplies power to 3.2 million North Carolina customers through Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress, issued a statement Monday saying that it could take several weeks to restore power to the hardest-hit areas after Florence churns across the state.

The company said Florence could wreak more damage than Matthew, the storm that knocked out power to 1.5 million Duke customers and cost about $125 million to restore power lines, repair substations and replace other waterlogged equipment.

“We’re anticipating significant widespread outages based on a storm of this magnitude,” said spokeswoman Meredith Archie.

And Duke represents only a portion of the exposure North Carolina faces. Another 1.6 million customers get their power from about 100 rural electric cooperatives and municipal power agencies in the state, which supply electricity to smaller communities throughout North Carolina, many of them sitting in Florence’s projected path.

Duke and the small-town power providers are deploying emergency work crews to start restoring power as soon as conditions are safe. In some areas it may take several weeks for flood waters to recede before crews can enter to start restoration work.

Hurricane Florence was a Category 4 hurricane by Monday afternoon and is on track to make landfall in the Carolinas. Here's how its path compares to past hurricanes that've been historical for the Carolinas — including Hurricane Hugo.

Duke has 4,600 linemen, tree crew workers and others ready for action. The power company is bringing in 800 more workers from its territories in Florida and the Midwest. Duke expects additional muscle from hundreds of workers lent by neighboring utility companies, through the Southeaster Electric Exchange mutual aid program. The rural co-ops and municipal power agencies also participate in emergency assistance programs with regional organizations.

After Hurricane Matthew drenched the state in 2016, Duke Energy Progress had to rebuild sections of its power grid; the effort involved restringing nearly 300 miles of downed wire and replacing 5,500 utility poles knocked over by the storm, The N&O reported in 2017.

The cost of the repairs is considered part of Duke’s normal cost of operation and maintenance, and whatever amount Duke passes on to its customers must be approved by the N.C. Utilities Commission. The damage from hurricanes can be so extensive that Duke recoups the cost from customers by spreading out recovery over the course of many years, said James McLawhorn, who directs the Electric Division of the N.C. Public Staff, a state agency that represents the public in utility rate matters.

Duke customers will be able to report outages by texting the word OUT to 57801. But the phone sending the text must be associated with the home or business account to be recognized by location. Customers can go online this week to enter their cell phone numbers into their accounts.

Or customers can call directly to report outages.

Who to call if the power goes out

Duke Energy customers:

Duke Energy Progress: 1-800-419-6356.

Duke Energy Carolinas: 1-800-769-3766 (1-800-POWER-ON)

NC Electric Cooperatives customers:

Brunswick Electric (Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus and Robeson): 800-682-5309

Cape Hatteras Electric (Dare): 866-511-9862

Carteret-Craven Electric (Carteret, Craven, Jones and Onslow): 252-247-3107 or 800-682-2217

Central Electric (Chatham, Harnett, Lee, Moore and Randolph): 877-766-6769

Edgecombe-Martin County EMC (Beaufort, Bertie, Edgecombe, Halifax, Martin, Nash, Pitt, and Wilson): 800-690-0657

Four County EMC (Bladen, Columbus, Duplin, Onslow, Pender and Sampson): 888-368-7289

Halifax EMC (Halifax, Martin, Nash and Warren): 800-690-0522

Jones-Onslow EMC (Lenoir, Jones, Onslow, Duplin, Pender and Craven): 910-353-7117 or 800-682-1515

Lumbee River EMC (Cumberland, Hoke, Robeson and Scotland): 800-683-5571 or 910-843-4131

Piedmont Electric (Alamance, Caswell, Durham, Granville, Orange, Person and Chatham): 800-449-2667

Pitt and Greene EMC (Edgecombe, Greene, Lenoir, Pitt, Wayne and Wilson): 800-622-1362 or 252-753-8778

South River EMC (Bladen, Cumberland, Harnett, Johnston and Sampson): 888-338-5530 or 910-892-8071

Tideland EMC (Beaufort, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Pamlico, and Washington): 800-637-1079

Tri-County EMC (Duplin, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Sampson, Wayne, and Wilson): 919-735-2611 or 800-548-4869

Wake Electric (Durham, Franklin, Granville, Johnston, Nash, Vance and Wake): 919-863-6499 or 800-743-315

NC Municipal Power customers:

Apex: 919-372-7475

Ayden: 252-481-5844

Belhaven: 252-943-3055

Benson: 919-894-3553

Clayton: 919-553-1530

Edenton: 252-482-4414

Elizabeth City: 252-337-6870

Farmville: 252-753-5116

Fremont: 919-242-5151

Greenville Utilities Commission: 855-767-2482

Hamilton: 252-789-4530

Hertford: 252-426-5311

Hobgood: 252-826-4573

Hookerton: 252-747-3816

Kinston: 252-939-3282

La Grange: 252-566-3186

Laurinburg: 910-276-2364

Louisburg: 919-496-4145 After hours: 919-496-4290

Lumberton: 910-272-1348

New Bern: 252-636-4070

Pikeville: 919-242-5126

Red Springs: 910-843-5241 x 228

Robersonville: 252-508-0337

Rocky Mount: 252-467-4800

Scotland Neck: 252-826-3152

Selma: 919-965-8981

Smithfield: 919-934-1117

Southport: 800-682-5309 After hours/weekends: 252-641-4247

Wake Forest: 919-761-7899

Washington: 252-975-9320

Wilson: 252-399-2424

Enfield: 252-445-5181

Fayetteville: 910-223-4001

Fountain: 252-749-2881

Macclesfield: 252-827-4823

Pinetops: 252-827-4435

Sharpsburg: 252-446-9441

Statonsburg: 252-238-3608

Walstonburg: 252-753-5667

Windsor: 252-794-2331

Winterville: 252-902-6328

If the power goes out

Unplug electronics to prevent damage from power surges

Put generators, camp stoves or charcoal grills outside and at least 20 feet away from windows or open doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Install carbon monoxide alarms. If the alarm goes off, leave your home and call 911.

Keep refrigerators and freezers closed.

Do not leave candles unattended or around children or pets.

Follow more of our reporting on Hurricane Florence

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