By Donna Green-Townsend – WUFT-FM
Progress Energy officials say the slow-moving tropical system, Debby, is likely to cause multi-day outages. Crews have been battling the effects of the storm today and are preparing to repair additional damage on Monday as the Debby continues to pound Florida’s western coastline.
Today crews worked to restore more than 80,000 customers who lost power. As of 9:30 p.m., about 35,000 customers were still without power. Company officials say they expect more outages when the storm makes landfall. Progress Energy provides electricity and related services to more than 1.6 million customers in Florida. The utility has moved crews from non-affected areas to locations where the storm will have more direct impact and is bringing in additional line and service as well as tree personnel from neighboring utilities.
Employees are being mobilized to handle increased customer calls. For Progress Energy power outages customers are encouraged to call 1-800-228-8485. Customers can also use this number to report downed power lines.
Progress Energy says crews will begin working as soon as the storm has passed and conditions are safe. Company officials say flooded roads, closed bridges and other effects of the storm will likely make it difficult for utility personnel to move around and may delay the start of restoration efforts. In a press release, Progress Energy explained the first repair priorities will be transmission lines, high-voltage lines that deliver electricity from power plants to substations.
Customers and media can find outage information on Progress Energy’s website 24 hours a day at www.progress-energy.com/outagemap. The map is being updated at regular intervals throughout the day.
Progress Energy Florida is also using social media channels to keep customers informed throughout the storm restoration process. The company will post regular updates on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ProgEnergyFL and Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProgressEnergyFlorida.
When the storm hits
- Stay indoors in an inside room away from doors and windows, electrical outlets and water pipes.
- Keep television and radio tuned for information from official sources. Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- If you evacuate, shut off gas, water and electricity (electricity can be shut off at the breaker box). Take blankets, first-aid supplies and other essential items with you to the nearest shelter.
Be safe after the storm
- Never go near downed power lines. Always assume they are energized and extremely dangerous. If someone suffers an electric shock, call 911 or your local rescue squad immediately. Even minor shocks may cause serious health problems later.
- Check for electrical damage inside your home, such as frayed wires, sparks or the smell of burning insulation. If you find damage, don’t turn your power on until an electrician inspects your system and makes necessary repairs.
- Walk and drive cautiously. Watch out for debris-filled streets and weakened bridges.
- Snakes and insects can be a problem after storms.
- Use your emergency water supply or boil water before drinking it until local officials deem the water supply safe. Report broken sewer or water mains.
- Make temporary repairs to protect property from further damage or looting. Beware of unscrupulous contractors.
If the power goes out
- Do not connect a generator directly to your home’s electrical system. It is dangerous to you, your neighbors and utility workers. Follow manufacturer’s directions regarding connecting appliances directly to your generator.
- In any power outage, utility crews restore service as quickly as possible, starting with the largest lines and facilities serving the most people.