Crews work to restore power, clean up damage after Friday's ice storm

Duke Energy says customers in the Triad may not get their lights back until Wednesday.
March 9, 2014 11:02:50 AM PDT
The storm system that brought a cold and soaking rain Thursday lingered Friday, causing problems all around the ABC11 viewing area.

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The National Weather Service even extended a winter weather advisory for several counties until Saturday morning.

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Wake County and Vance County schools also decided to cancel Saturday's school make-up day due to inclement weather.

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Gov. Pat McCrory signed a State of Emergency declaration and waived weight and hours of service restrictions on truck drivers to expedite response to Friday's winter storm. The storm impacted much of central North Carolina.

"While we have become very experienced in winter storm response during the past two months, each storm is different and can require different resources," McCrory said. "[Friday] we're seeing more power outages than we had during any of the previous storms this year, and we need to do all that we can as quickly as we can to help those in need."

The icy conditions, along with extensive rain and wind, are being blamed for thousands of power outages across the ABC11 viewing area. The hardest hit areas locally were Orange, Davidson, Granville and Person counties.

The ice storm also continues to be a problem for rail service in the state. Amtrak was forced to cancel the Carolinian and Piedmont trains Saturday, between Durham and Greensboro. Amtrak blames the issue on trees and power lines that are still on the tracks.

The saturated ground caused many trees to topple over, taking down several power lines, damaging homes, and blocking roadways. At one point, 460,000 customer were without power across the state.

As of Sunday afternoon, 12,000 customers remain without power compared to Friday's 62,600 outages. Duke Energy estimates full power restoration in Orange County by 11:30 p.m. Sunday. However, customers in the Triad may not get their lights back until Wednesday.

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"Glad it didn't hit the house! We got pretty lucky. It grazed the condensers on the other side and grazed the gutters on the roof. All things considered, it could have been a lot worse," said homeowner Scott Dwyer, who lives on a wooded lot where ice started taking out trees.

Dwyer's neighborhood is one of many in Orange County that lost power. His family and others spent a cold night inside.

The N.C. Forestry Service sent a team to Orange County to help clear littered roadways. Duke Energy progress says 1,000 employees have been moved into the area to work to restore power.

On Friday, Orange County declared a State of Emergency due to the winter weather. County offices remain closed Saturday. A shelter was open Friday at Stanford Middle School but closed Saturday afternoon.

"One through one window, and hit the other side of the house. Actually, the force of the trees caused all the dishes in the cabinet to come across the room, about 10 feet from the hit on the other side of that wall!" said shelter volunteer Tiffany Thieken, who was personally affected by the storm.

State emergency management officials recommended people follow these winter safety tips if they have lost power:

  • Keep alternative heating sources prepared. If you have a fireplace, store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood. Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure your family knows how to use them.
  • Do not use charcoal grills or generators indoors; the fumes can be deadly.
  • Turn off electrical appliances that were on when the power went off to avoid a power surge when the electricity is restored.
  • Use flashlights. Do not use candles; they greatly increase the chance of having a fire in your home.
  • Limit your activities to no more than two rooms and close off unneeded rooms.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors and cover windows at night to keep cold air out and warm air in.
  • If you have well water, fill up tubs and buckets with water so if the power goes out you still have water.
  • Remember to eat and drink regularly. Food provides the body with energy to produce its own heat.
  • Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Layering clothes keeps you warmer than a single layer of heavy clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, perspiration and subsequent chill.

Now as crews work to restore power, people like Tommy Tuck make adjustments. His daughter's engagement party and the stew she requested will go on, but outside his home.

"Well, we had a lot of guests coming in! We're going to go with the party anyway. This is make do, and do what you can," Tuck said.

With fallen trees and power lines still visible around the Triangle, it is smart to stay connected with your ABC11 mobile app for updates.

"Listen to that gut feeling! When you're thinking you got to go, probably should listen to it," Thieken said.

However, go carefully, watching for potential problems.

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