Published: 2016-10-10 07:12:00
Updated: 2016-10-10 14:52:10
Posted October 10, 2016
Raleigh, N.C. — More than a half million customers were still without power across eastern North Carolina Monday, some having suffered through 48 hours in the dark after the passage of Hurricane Matthew with no relief in sight.
Duke Energy Progress deployed more than 10,000 people to address the outages, doubling their staffing from Sunday. They will work 15-hour shifts until power is restored, a process which could take much of the week.
"Unfortunately, we'll all remember Hurricane Matthew in the same way we remember Floyd, Fran and Hugo," Duke CEO David Fountain said.
At one point during the storm, 1.2 million Duke customers were without power, Fountain said. Many of the power outages were caused by downed trees, which fell when the earth became saturated with water.
By Monday afternoon, about 825,000 of those customers had the lights back on, but more than 400,000 remained offline.
"It's going to take all week," said Bobby Simpson, Duke's storm director in Raleigh.
The utility counted more than 800 poles down and thousands of spans of wire snapped. Simpson said 57 transmission lines, those built to sustain the high winds of a hurricane, had been damaged.
Homeowners like those without power in Zebulon's Wedgewood subdivision could wait for days while Duke addresses those higher priority customers.
Duke crews met at a staging location at the Coastal Credit Union Music Park at Walnut Creek Monday morning and packed both breakfast and lunch for their long day.
"First, we respond to critical infastructure – hospitals, water, sewer – and make sure they have their power back on," said Duke Energy spokeswoman Meredith Archie. "Then we work to get the most customers as possible back online. So, some of the areas that will get thousands of power on. Then we move to the outages that are impacting the smaller numbers."
Customers of electric cooperatives and other utilities were also waiting for power to be restored. Dominion reported 31,000 without power and ElectriCities had more than 7,000 customer offline Monday at noon.
In Raleigh, Crabtree Valley Mall opened Monday after significant flooding in the parking lot and decks closed the mall Saturday. Cleanup crews used fire hoses and shovels to collect the excessive mud and water.
Many of the state's public school systems canceled classes for Monday because schools had lost power. Cumberland County and Johnston County schools will remain closed Tuesday, and Wayne County has canceled a week of classes.