Alabama Power crews await arrival of Hurricane Florence
By Gilbert Nicholson
Alabama Power crews are positioned in northern Georgia awaiting Hurricane Florence's landfall so they can began assisting with power restoration when it is safe to do so. (Wynter Byrd / Alabama NewsCenter)
Some 350 linemen with bucket trucks and other equipment will help Duke Energy restore power once the monstrous hurricane blows through the Carolinas late Thursday, during the day Friday and perhaps all weekend.
Alabama Power employees are scattered across north Georgia within a day’s drive of the expected storm path.
“This will be a dynamic storm,” said Senior Vice President of Power Delivery Scott Moore. “A measure of patience is going to be a virtue here. Once it comes ashore, we’re going to be busy for a while. Be safe and take care of one another.”
Alabama Power is helping Duke Energy through a “mutual assistance” agreement between electric utilities to restore power during significant outages.
Current estimates place landfall Friday morning on the southern coast of North Carolina as a Category 3 hurricane, packing winds between 111 and 129 miles per hour. Steering air currents are predicted to subside, leaving Florence to swirl and meander just off the coast through the weekend, causing catastrophic flooding and wind damage.
The severity of the storm may cause more than just downed lines and poles, as some critical infrastructure may have to be rebuilt.
According to a report from Bloomberg, as many as 3 million homes and businesses in the Carolinas may lose power if Hurricane Florence hits the largest urban areas.
The worst case scenario would be if Florence comes ashore at Wilmington, North Carolina, and moves north through the three state’s biggest cities: Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte, David Fountain, Duke Energy’s president for North Carolina, said Wednesday. Up to 75 percent of the utility’s customers could be without power, and it may take “weeks” to fully restore it, he said.
“This is no ordinary storm, and people could be without power for a very long time — not days but weeks,” Fountain said on a call with reporters. “Hurricane Florence will be a life changing event for many people in the Carolinas.”
In Alabama, Talladega Superspeedway said today it will offer a portion of its campgrounds – which include hot shower and restroom facilities, as well as water hookups on gravel areas – free to evacuees seeking temporary refuge, beginning Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
The racetrack said its Winner’s Walk I reserved RV area outside Turn 1 will be available free for individuals needing a place to bring their campers, trailers and noncommercial vehicles. While it doesn’t have electrical hookups, the tree-lined area contains two dump stations.
“We at Talladega Superspeedway are committed to helping our friends in the Carolinas and the surrounding states during this time of need,” Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch said. “We hope to provide a sense of relief by offering a place to stay for no charge for evacuees during this time of adversity. Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in the path of the storm.”
Evacuees must have all domestic animal pets on leashes while on the property. Livestock isn’t allowed.