Duke Energy meets with Emergency Management staffers ahead of Hurricane Ian

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Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Duke Energy meets with emergency crews ahead of Hurricane Ian
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Dozens of local leaders and emergency management officials will gather in Durham for a meeting with Duke Energy on hurricane preparations.

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- Duke Energy hosted an information session at Durham City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, meeting with Emergency Management officials from Durham, Orange, Chatham, and Lee counties.

The meeting, which was scheduled prior to Hurricane Ian's formation, reviewed a number of safety topics.

"We've made a lot of improvements around the region, adding technology like self-healing capabilities that can automatically detect power outages and re-route power to other lines to restore service faster. All of that helps our crews in the field respond faster and get outages restored sooner than we could just a few years ago," Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks said.

SEE ALSO: Latest details on Hurricane Ian forecast for North Carolina

One point of emphasis was coordination between Duke Energy and emergency management staffers.

"During large-scale events, we're communicating with Duke as much as we can. They're communicating back with us. Things that we're seeing on the ground, things that they're seeing on the ground. If we've got an outage with a critical facility, we're able to let them know and help that restoration happen a little bit quicker," said Sarah Pickhardt, Division Chief of Emergency Management in Orange County.

Following an hour-long presentation inside Council Chambers, Duke Energy staffers showcased equipment, including a drone, which can be utilized to access hard-to-reach areas.

"Drones that can speed the damage assessment process and even outage response process," said Brooks. "We've also got vehicles than can go into swampy and wet areas so tracked vehicles that we have there."

At this point, Duke Energy is not sending North Carolina crews to Florida as they wait to see the potential impact of the storm here; out-of-state crews are being directed towards Florida, though not North Carolina at this time.

Emergency management crews are spending this week reviewing water gauge levels and readying shelters should they be necessary.

"There's a lot of general areas within Durham that can be prone to flooding and pooling in the roadways. But for the most part, Durham is pretty resilient in terms of the infrastructure of the roads," said Hayden Smith, Emergency Management Coordinator with Durham County Emergency Management.

Elsewhere, people are starting to stock up on supplies in the event of power outages or loss of power.

"Being that it is hurricane season and all of that, we tend to keep more sandbags, we tend to keep more batteries over there. Mainly we try and focus more on the bigger packs instead of just the two and fours. But yeah, usually during hurricane season, we will keep stock up," said Harvey Wall, a manager with Public Hardware, Inc. in Durham.

"Normally my husband and I keep bottled water in the basement. We have basement area in the house. And canned food as far something that we can eat that won't spoil," added Brenda Henderson, a shopper.

Wall said customers tend to wait until closer to the storm to purchase supplies.

"The most important thing would be not to wait until the last minute. We see it all the time. It will be one day, two days before and I understand you want to make sure you don't get something you don't need. But it's better to get it now than to wait and not be able to get it," said Wall.

In the next couple of days, you should ensure you have water (1 gallon per person for three to seven days), non-perishable foods, extra medications, cash, important documents, batteries, and backup energy sources. Emergency plans should include having a safe place to access and contacting family members if you're apart to decide when you will get back together.