Duke Energy meteorologists are estimating power outages from Hurricane Florence will be between 1 million and 3 million customers in the Carolinas, according to a news release from the company.
"The magnitude of the storm is beyond what we have seen in years," Howard Fowler, Duke Energy's incident commander, said in the release. "With the storm expected to linger, power restoration work could take weeks instead of days."
More than 20,000 people are in place to restore power — the largest mobilization ever for Duke Energy, the company said. About 12,300 workers from other Duke Energy subsidiaries and other utilities are joining more than 8,000 Carolinas-based workers to help with the effort.
"It's important for people to know this is no ordinary storm and customers could be without power for a very long time — not days, but weeks," Fowler said.
The governors of North Carolina and South Carolina have declared states of emergency in advance of the hurricane.
"This will be a challenging time for our customers," added Fowler. "As the storm approaches, we want them to remain safe and we appreciate their patience as Duke Energy works to restore damage."
Storm updates and videos from Duke Energy can be found at www.dukeenergyupdates.com.
The energy company gave the following tips for staying safe if the power goes out:
• Stay away from power lines that have fallen or are sagging. Consider all lines energized, as well as trees, limbs or anything in contact with the lines.
• If a power line falls across a car that you're in, stay in the car. If you must get out of the car due to a fire or other life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
• Create (or update) an emergency supply kit. The kit should include everything an individual or family would need for at least two weeks, especially medicines and other supplies that might be hard to find after a storm strikes.
• Maintain a supply of water and non-perishable food.
• Have a portable radio or TV, or NOAA weather radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and important information from state and local officials.
• Charge cellphones, computers and other electronic devices in advance of the storm. Consider purchasing portable chargers and make sure they are fully charged as well.
• Have a plan to move family members — especially those with special needs — to a safe, alternative location in case an extended power outage occurs or evacuation is required.
• Pet owners should make arrangements to stay at evacuation shelters that accept pets, friends' or family members' homes, or pet-friendly hotels.
• Review insurance policies, and include extra copies of the policies and other important documents in your emergency supply kit (ideally in a waterproof container).
Power line hazards can be reported using the following phone numbers: Duke Energy Carolinas customers — 800-769-3766 or Duke Energy Progress customers — 800-419-6356.