With widespread power outages occurring in different counties across the state, WUFT’s Elliot Tritto spoke with Duke Energy spokesperson Ben Williamson about what Duke is doing in response to Hurricane Idalia.
Ben Williamson: Currently I’m staged kind of, uh, in the middle of the state at our largest staging area. It’s near The Villages. We’ve got about a thousand trucks here. Some of them have already pulled out this morning to go restore power, and some are waiting to be told where to go.
Elliot Tritto: So what have you heard so far? What areas have you heard that really need to get their power back on?
Williamson: The storm continues to roll through, and we know, we already know that the northern part of the state, the Panhandle, got hit extremely hard, specifically like the Perry area. The storm is still kind of sitting over there, so we’re not entirely sure what we’re working with, but that is by far the hardest hit area. You know, outages have fluctuated. I can tell you, you know, we’re restoring power pretty quickly. We’ve already restored more than 50,000 outages since this morning.
So you know, we’re seeing some, some small things around the state, but the major impact is certainly there in the panhandle, the Perry area. And so we’ve got crews there working already and it’s likely that we will deploy a number of resources up there here very shortly.
Tritto: Let’s say there’s new outages that’s going on, what can Duke Energy customers do to report about new outages or any new issues that they’re experiencing during Hurricane Idalia?
Williamson: Yeah, it’s a great question because it can help our teams kind of map, it’s another data point that we can use to help identify areas that need support. So, if you are a customer and you’ve lost power, you can do a couple of things. You can report that outage in a couple of ways. One, if you’re a customer, you should download the Duke Energy app.
You probably have it. You can go click on it. It’s the first thing you’ll see is you can report an outage. You can go to duke-energy.com/outagealerts. Or if you just go to duke-energy.com, you’ll see it’s right there on the homepage. You can report an outage that way. You can text “out,” O-U-T, text “out” to 57801, and then there’s a number you can call. It’s 1-800-228-8485. Those are all different things you could do to report outages.
And what that does is it gives our teams another data point to say, ‘Okay, here’s an area that might need some attention and focus.’ So, that’s what people can do to help.
And we would just ask for folks to be patient. We understand that a power outage of any amount of time is certainly, is not convenient, but just know that our crews are working as quickly as possible. But we have to make sure our number one priority is the safety of our customers and the safety of our crews. So we’ve got to make sure we do that.
Tritto: And how many crews do you have ready to deploy, or have been deployed?
Williamson: So we mobilized, as of right before the storm hit, we had about 5,000 resources. That includes, that’s across the state, 5,000 resources across the state. That includes line technicians, vegetation management teams, so the folks that trim the trees, cut trees, remove branches.
Damage assessment teams. So those are the teams that kind of map out where the hardest hit areas are. We’ve got logistics operations. So about 5,000 resources across the state right where I am at, which is in The Villages. We’ve got about 1,000 trucks here. And so all of those folks are either already out doing work or will be deployed shortly when we start identifying some of these hard-hit areas.
Tritto: So let’s say if you have power outages and Duke Energy isn’t quite there yet but it’s making, it’s doing all it can to fix it, what can people do to maybe get some light or to basically, what can they do in the meantime?
Williamson: Yeah, absolutely. So this goes back to the, be prepared.
And that’s the most important thing that families can do. Family should have a plan. They really need to. If they didn’t for this storm, they need to certainly do it for the next storm. But you gotta make sure you have batteries. You gotta make sure you have water for you and your family.
You gotta have nonperishable food, right? Something that doesn’t require a refrigerator or microwave or oven. You gotta have those items. You need to be able to have a way to to check in on family, but also to make sure there is someone that knows where you and your family are. So if you’ve lost power and you’re planning on, going somewhere else or leaving, make sure somebody knows where you’re at and where you’re going.
The only other big thing I would mention is that, you know, if you lose power, we would ask for your patience as we work to get it back on. But we really want to stress to people that if they see any sort of downed power lines, stay clear. You should consider those lines live and energized. And they can pose a serious safety risk to individuals.
So if people see downed lines, stay away, report it, and we’ll be out and get that fixed.