Clayton man survives near miss with falling power lines

Posted June 14, 2013 9:53 p.m. EDT
Updated June 15, 2013 7:52 a.m. EDT

— Ray Reynolds was almost a belated victim of Thursday's storms. As he drove down River Dell Run in Johnston County Friday, a tree toppled onto power lines overhead, narrowly missing Reynolds' truck. 

Surveillance video captured by Reynolds' neighbor, John Payne, shows the wires smoking and catching fire just behind Reynolds' truck. The flames burned two holes in the metal.

"I was tore all up. I was shaking like a leaf," Reynolds said after seeing the video. It wasn't until Payne showed him the footage that Reynolds realized how close he came to serious injury.

"I could feel it," Reynolds said. "I could feel it in my bones."

Payne says the tree was weakened by the high winds associated with Thursday's storms. He and his neighbors were without power for a couple of hours Friday, but the lights were back on by 5 p.m.

Thousands still without power

They are luckier than the thousands who remained without power Saturday morning after winds of up to 70 mph knocked down trees and power lines across central and eastern North Carolina.

Officials with Duke Energy Progress said crews would work through the weekend to continue the progress made Friday toward total power restoration.

Utility spokesman Jeff Brooks said it could take until Sunday evening to get power restored to some hard-hit areas in the Triangle and Sandhills.

"We're hopeful to get those customers back on as quickly as possible and make a lot of gains today, given the good weather," Brooks said. "We're working as quickly and safely as we can.

"We recognize that it is very frustrating and challenging for customers to be in an extended outage."

Crews first work to fix large lines and substations, working their way down to smaller lines. For people in rural areas, that could mean long waits.

"Given the size of the storm, the scale of the storm, we had a significant number of trees down, lines down and broken poles," Brooks said. "That has complicated the restoration effort."

He compared Thursday's storms to the power of a hurricane that passes by in minutes.