Duke Energy assessing massive damage on Florida Panhandle following Hurricane Michael

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  • Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson, Wakulla counties among hardest-hit areas.

  • Assessment will help determine estimated power restoration times.

  • Crews must repair transmission towers, substations, other key electric system components.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Duke Energy crews today are using helicopters, drones, boats, trucks and foot patrols to assess catastrophic damage to parts of the company’s electric system on the Florida Panhandle in the wake of powerful Hurricane Michael.

Eighty percent or more of Duke Energy’s customers in Bay, Franklin, Gulf, Jefferson and Wakulla counties lost power Wednesday as the storm roared on shore as a category 4 hurricane – packing winds of 155 mph and a historic storm surge that demolished or severely damaged thousands of homes, businesses and other structures.

An estimated total of 31,000 Duke Energy Florida customers lost power due to the hurricane.

Damage assessment and repairs to the electric system are underway in areas that crews are able to access.

“Our heart goes out to our customers and the dozens of devastated communities impacted by Hurricane Michael,” said Luis Ordaz, Duke Energy Florida’s incident commander.

“Duke Energy will work as quickly as possible to safely restore power – and, in many cases, rebuild the electric system – as an important first step to helping our customers and communities begin what will be a long and difficult recovery period,” Ordaz said.

The storm damaged numerous electric transmission and distribution facilities, including substations, utility poles, power lines and other key system components – all of which will need to be replaced or repaired before power can be restored to individual homes and businesses.

Duke Energy’s aerial and ground assessment in heavily damaged, hard-to-reach areas will determine where the company will deploy repair crews and equipment, and how long repairs will take.

The company’s first priority is restoring power to the surviving critical infrastructure – local emergency centers, police and fire stations, hospitals, water treatment plants, other public health and safety facilities, and schools.

How to report a power outage

Customers who experience a power outage can report it by:

  • Texting OUT to 57801 (standard text and data charges may apply).
  • Calling the automated outage-reporting system at 800.228.8485.

For storm or power restoration updates, follow Duke Energy on Twitter (@DukeEnergy) and Facebook (Duke Energy).

Power line safety

  • 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 lines.
  • Report all power line hazards by calling 800.228.8485.
  • 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 immediate 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.
  • Click here for a video about power line safety.

High-water safety

  • People who live along lakes and rivers, and in other low-lying areas or areas prone to flooding, should pay close attention to local emergency management officials, national weather service and media for changing weather conditions and rising lake and river levels.
  • High water conditions can create navigational hazards and the public should use caution and adhere to the advice of local emergency management officials before going on area lakes or rivers.
  • Members of the public who have electrical service to facilities (piers, outside lighting on seawalls, etc.) on or near water, should have this service de-energized to avoid injuries and equipment damage.

For a "Hurricane Kit Checklist," and important safety information visit www.ready.gov. In addition, tips on what to do before, during and after a storm can be found at www.duke-energy.com/safety-and-preparedness/storm-safety. A checklist serves as a helpful guide, but it's critical before, during and after a storm to follow the instructions and warnings of emergency management officials in your area.


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