Progress Energy crews from Western North Carolina are headed to coastal areas today to assist in restoring service from the expected effects of Tropical Storm/Hurricane Hanna. The storm is expected to make landfall near the N.C./S.C. border between 2 and 4 a.m. Saturday.
Company line and service crews, as well as contract line and tree crews and support personnel are expected to arrive in Wilmington and other coastal areas today, so they can be deployed to assist other company crews once the storm moves through Eastern North Carolina Saturday morning. Progress Energy has a normal complement of about 300 company and contract line and tree personnel in the region that extends from the coast to Interstate-95.
The company also will bring in crews from other Progress Energy locations, as well as non-company crews from the region, as the situation warrants.
On its current forecast path, Hanna would be expected to cause damage and power outages, primarily in Eastern North Carolina, but some impacts could extend well inland, depending on the storm's ultimate course and intensity. Progress Energy will maintain line and tree crews in all areas where the storm could create power outages, including the Triangle, Sandhills and South Carolina. Once those areas are clear, teams will be sent to eastern North Carolina to support restoration there as needed.
Meanwhile, the company continues to monitor the movement of Hurricane Ike, which remains a strong Category 4 storm. Forecasts vary considerably, and there is a potential for impacts to the Southeastern United States next week. Tropical Storm Josephine is also churning farther east in the Atlantic.
"We are making our final pre-storm preparations today, and we encourage our customers to do the same," said Hershell McCarty, Progress Energy Carolinas storm coordinator. "Whether Hanna makes landfall as a tropical storm or hurricane might make a slight difference in the number of outages created, but it doesn't factor into our level of commitment and response. Our goal is to restore service as quickly and safely as possible, which is what our customers expect."
The company's storm plan includes mobilizing employees to handle increased customer calls, to quickly evaluate storm damage, to coordinate line crew and equipment mobilization, to coordinate materials required for repairs, and to arrange meals and lodging for out-of-town workers.
Progress Energy works to minimize storm impacts year-round through preventive maintenance, including trimming of trees around the company's 6,000 miles of transmission lines and 60,000 miles of electric distribution lines. Wind-blown trees and limbs are the leading cause of power outages during storms.