Duke Energy prepares for power outages, has thousands of crew members on-call

- As evacuations continue down in Florida, people in the Carolinas are also prepping for the storm.

Irma is expected to impact our area early next week.

Duke Energy has thousands of crews on hand ready to respond should the area go dark from storms early next week.

"The one thing to never do-- is never underestimate the fury of mother nature," said Duke Energy Spokesperson Tim Pettit.

As people throughout the southeast prepare for Irma, Duke Energy crews are also trying to get ahead of the storm.

"It's essentially all hands on deck," said Pettit.

"We have all our crews on standby," said Duke Energy Spokesperson Meghan Miles.  "A lot of them are packed and ready to travel before the start of the hurricane."

In the case the Queen City goes dark, Duke Energy is ready to give the green light for restoration crews to respond in full force.

"We have line crews and personnel available throughout our whole service territory-- ready to respond if outages and emergencies occur," said Miles.

"The bottom line is -- this is when customers count on us most of all," said Pettit.  "So we work together as a team and do what has to be done."

"We always have the option to move resources to where we expect to see the biggest impact from the hurricane," added Miles.

Duke Energy's Tim Pettit is no stranger to a storm of this strength, he was here when Hugo hit.

"September 22, 1989-- it's a day all of us who worked for Duke Power remember very well, unfortunately," said Pettit.

Since then, he says Duke Energy has become more efficient when it comes to restoration efforts.

"Back in '89 when Hugo came through, we had 700,000 customer outages," said Pettit.  "And complete restoration was 18 days.  Last year with Hurricane Matthew, we had a lot of people impacted-- and we essentially had them all restored in less than a week ."

"We've improved response times," said Miles.  "Technology has improved."

Duke Energy says planning is key.

"Mother Nature is in charge here," said Pettit.  "So there's no way we can prevent all customers from having outages-- so if you have an outage-- be patient, call it in and realize we will get there as soon as we can."

Make sure to report any downed or sagging lines you see and don't approach them because they could still be energized.

Outages can be reported to 1-800-POWER-ON or you can text "OUT" to 57801.

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