(Reuters) - U.S. power companies said more than 870,000 homes and businesses, mostly in North Carolina and South Carolina, were without power on Saturday after Florence hit the Southeast coast.
Tropical Storm Florence dumped “epic” amounts of rain on North and South Carolina as it trudged inland on Saturday, triggering dangerous flooding, toppling trees, cutting power to nearly a million homes and businesses while causing at least five deaths.
In North Carolina alone, there were 777,937 power outages as of 1:20 p.m. ET, according to North Carolina’s Department of Public Safety.
Duke Energy Corp, the area’s biggest utility with more than 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million and 3 million outages. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.
Duke said it had more than 20,000 personnel ready to start fixing outages as soon as conditions allowed, including more than 8,000 from Duke’s Carolinas utilities, 1,700 from the Midwest, 1,200 from Florida and 9,400 from other utilities.
“High winds and severe flooding from Hurricane Florence will impede the pace of our outage restoration efforts. Work will begin when conditions safely allow,” the company said on its website on Saturday.
GRAPHIC: Hurricane Florence - tmsnrt.rs/2p5XM5i
Reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Chizu Nomiyama