Thursday, March 30, 2023

With up to three million outages anticipated, here’s what to do when the power goes out

"If you experience an outage this evening, it's going to be until after the storm passes until our crews get out there," Jeff Brooks, Duke Energy spokesperson, said.

Duke Energy is expecting one to three million outages between North and South Carolina as a result of Hurricane Florence. (Port City Daily/File photo)
Duke Energy is expecting one to three million outages between North and South Carolina as a result of Hurricane Florence. (Port City Daily/File photo)

SOUTHEASTERN, N.C. — Duke Energy is anticipating up to 75 percent of its 4.2 million customers in North and South Carolina will soon be without power.

As the outer bands of Hurricane Florence make landfall in southeastern, North Carolina, thousands of outages have already been recorded. Duke expects up to 3 million.

RELATED: Live blog: The heart of Hurricane Florence

“If three million outages are a result of Hurricane Florence, this will be the greatest number of outages that we’ve experienced in the Carolinas at one time,” Shawna Berger, Duke Energy spokesperson, said.

With thousands more outages anticipated in the Cape Fear region and millions in total, what should you do if – and when – the power goes out?

First steps

When the power goes out, the simplest step to take is to text “OUT” to 57801.

“If you do experience an outage, we want you to report it,” Jeff Brooks, a spokesperson for Duke Energy, said. ‘It sometimes seems obvious but it helps to create an inventory.”

The next step, Brooks said, is to assume and prepare for power to stay out. “Assume it’s going to be out for several days,” Brooks said. “We cannot guarantee that we can get to you quickly given the scale of the damange we’re going to be dealing with.”

Because Duke Energy crews cannot work during hurricane-force winds, Brooks said customers should brace for a multi-day and potentially multi-week, outage scenario.

If customers witness a downed power line, Duke Energy asks that they consider all lines energized. “Always assume that that line is energized and stay away,” Brooks said. “Those powerlines may be concealed under debris from trees or even submerged.”

Even trees – including limbs and branches – should be considered energized. “You have to be very careful if you go outside,” Brooks said. “Better yet, don’t go out in those early days after the storms, there’s a lot of hazards out there.”

Practical tips

According to both Berger and Brooks, the utility has provided the following tips for its customers:

  • Steer clear of fallen or sagging power lines
  • Consider fallen trees, branches and limbs near downed lines as energized.
  • Report fallen power lines to Duke Energy Progress at 1-800-419-6356 or to Duke Energy Carolinas at 1-800.769.3766.
  • Never bring a generator indoors. “They should only be operated outdoors and in well-ventilated areas,” Berger said. “Most generators are gas-based; think about the fumes.”
  • Limit cell phone use and keep phones charged as much as possible
  • “If a power line falls across a car that youre in, stay in your car,” Berger said. “If you have to get out of your car, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet.”
  • Check on neighbors if they have not already evacuated
  • Maintain food and water supply
  • Make arrangements for pets
  • Check Ready NC for up-to-date shelter and evacuation information

“This is not a storm of inconvenience,” Berger said. “This will be a potentially life-changing event for some of our customers.”

Stay up to date on Duke Energy’s outage map here and Four County Electric Corporation’s outage map here.

Get the latest storm updates, along with information about shelters, evacuations, re-entry, and recovery efforts at — all storm-related info is free, with or without a subscription.

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee at

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