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Utility Warns That Hurricane Florence Could Knock Out Power ‘Not days. But weeks’


by Chris White

One of North Carolina’s chief power utilities is warning citizens that Hurricane Florence’s strong winds and torrential rain could knock out power for much longer than a typical storm.

Duke Energy, a utility serving millions of people in the Carolinas, issued a warning Wednesday, telling citizens that Florence will likely take parts of the grid offline for as long as a month. The storm will arrive on the East Coast sometime Thursday and linger for several days, forecasters say.

“People could be without power for a very long time, Not days, but weeks,” David Fountain, president of Duke Energy North Carolina, told Axios Wednesday. The storm is a Category 4 right now but will likely grow and become more unpredictable as it nears the Carolina.

A small area of the coastline will bear the brunt of the storm, but a larger area will experience harsh winds and flooding for a long duration due to the storm’s slow-movement. “Locations may be uninhabitable for weeks or months,” according to the National Weather Service’s Wilmington office.

Seven-day rainfall totals are forecast to reach 10 to 20 inches over portions of North Carolina. Florence might not be the only massive storm the East Coast will have to contend with over the course of the next several days. There are two other hurricanes – Helene and Isaac – brewing in the Atlantic several thousand miles away.

Florence, for her part, shares similarities with Hurricane Harvey, which made landfall in Houston on Aug. 25 of 2017 as a Category 4 hurricane and dumped record-setting amounts of rain.

Harvey then backed off into the Gulf of Mexico before making its second and final landfall in Louisiana on Aug. 30. It killed nearly 70 people at the outset and caused an estimated damage of $190 billion. At least 51 inches of rain were measured by a gauge outside of Houston, a new record for rainfall brought to a single area by a storm in the U.S.

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