Duke Energy today deployed 423 additional employees and contractors to help restore power to more than 8 million homes and businesses in the hard hit Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S. following Hurricane Sandy.

The new workers join 1,250 Duke Energy workers dispatched Monday, bringing the company's total storm contingent to nearly 1,700.

The utility also said it expects to deploy additional crews Wednesday.

The 423 workers deployed today are based in North Carolina. Those dispatched Monday are based in Florida and Indiana.

"Our hearts go out to the millions of our fellow Americans affected by this devastating storm of historic proportions," said Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy's executive vice president for customer operations. "Duke Energy, in partnership with many other utilities from across the U.S., will work as quickly as possible to help safely restore power in impacted areas."

Duke Energy already has restored power to 160,000 of its own customers who lost electricity due to the hurricane, mostly in North Carolina and Florida.

So far, Duke Energy crews have been deployed to assist the following utilities in Mid-Atlantic and Northeast states: Dominion Power, AEP, PHI, First Energy, PPL, National Grid, Northeast Utilities, Connecticut Power and Light, and United Illuminating.

Previous announcement:

Duke Energy today made 1200 line workers available to help other utilities restore power in Hurricane Sandy's aftermath.

Most of the workers are contractors who normally work in the service areas of Duke Energy and Progress Energy.

The company said it will make additional crews available later in the week after the storm passes through its service areas, which include parts of North Carolina, South Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Florida.

Many of the contract workers released for service today are based in Florida, which have experienced no major impacts from the storm. Some additional crews have been released from parts of Indiana that are not expected to be affected.

Line workers directly employed by Duke Energy and Progress Energy will remain in the company's service areas to handle existing and potential outages in those locations.

"We continue to monitor and respond to the ongoing effects of Hurricane Sandy," said Lloyd Yates, Duke Energy's executive vice president for customer operations. "Our ability to respond to storms is even stronger due to the merger of Duke Energy and Progress Energy, so once the storm clears our system, we'll be able to quickly deploy additional workers to assist other utilities as part of our mutual assistance agreements."

Duke Energy subsidiaries Progress Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Carolinas worked to restore outages over the weekend as Hurricane Sandy grazed the North Carolina coast and western mountains. The company is expecting high winds and snow in the North Carolina mountains, which could cause additional outages. High-wind advisories are in place in many Duke Energy service areas in the Midwest, as well.