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State of Emergency declared in NC as more than 130K without power after winter storm

Workers attempt to remove a tree after it fell on a house in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, An ice storm coated central North Carolina, toppling numerous trees and leaving thousands without power. (AP Photo/Skip Foreman)
Workers attempt to remove a tree after it fell on a house in Winston-Salem, N.C., Sunday, Jan. 13, 2019, An ice storm coated central North Carolina, toppling numerous trees and leaving thousands without power. (AP Photo/Skip Foreman) AP

After a winter storm rolled through the Carolinas on Saturday night and Sunday morning, more than 130,000 customers reported power outages, according to information shared by energy providers.

In an effort to help “utility workers restore power quickly,” North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper declared a State of Emergency for all 100 counties, according to a news release.

While there are blackouts in South Carolina, customers in North Carolina were hit much harder by the winter storm that dumped ice and snow across the state, the National Weather Service reported.

A State of Emergency was declared to “facilitate movement of any resources needed to respond to the storm and ordered that truck weight, size and hours of service restrictions be waived,” to let vehicles “get where they are needed quickly,” according to Cooper’s news release.

More than 119,000 Duke Energy customers were without power Sunday afternoon, with 118,534 of them located in North Carolina, according to the utility’s Winter Storm Update map.

The North Carolina Electric Cooperatives reported close to 13,000 customers had also lost power as of the early afternoon, according to its outage map.

The areas most heavily affected by the power outages included Forsyth County (36,361), Henderson County (20,675) Rockingham County (16,927), Guilford County (16,793) and Stokes County (7,096), Duke Energy reported.

Thousands of N.C. Electric Cooperative customers in Forsyth County (1,719) were also left in the dark Sunday, but Yadkin County (2,908) and Stokes County (2,854) customers reported more outages, according to the utility’s website.

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Duke Energy reported more than 100,000 customers in N.C. were without power Sunday. Twitter screen grab

There is no word on how long it will take to restore power to customers without service, and Duke Energy reported on its website that it is currently “assessing damage” in the listed counties.

Duke Energy tweeted that “most customers will be restored no later than Tuesday night.”

“Though the worst of the storm is over, conditions are still hazardous in areas that saw snow and ice,” Cooper said in the news release. “If you are without power, please be careful if you are using alternative heat sources. Slow down if you’re driving in areas where roads may be slick, and watch out for patchy black ice tomorrow morning, especially north and west of I-85.”

Customers have also reported outages in South Carolina, according to Duke Energy (521) and the Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina (236).

Duke Energy tweeted that “trees and ice-laden branches on lines ... are the main cause of ... outages in this storm. Icy, downed trees are also making work conditions challenging.”

A Duke Energy spokesperson posted on Twitter that “300 additional ... resources (were) brought into the” Winston-Salem area to help “restore power.” Added to that, the governor’s news release said nearly “1,000 N.C. Department of Transportation workers are working to clear snow and ice in the western part of the state and the Triad.”

In a tweet from another Duke Energy spokesperson, she reminded everyone to “stay away from downed or sagging lines.”

Some areas of N.C. received a half inch of ice accumulation, the NWS reported. That could cause trees and limbs to sag and knock down power lines.

“Winter Storm Warnings issued by the National Weather Service remain in effect through this evening for much of the mountains and northwestern piedmont,” according to Cooper’s news release. “Winter Weather Advisories remains in effect for portions of the southwestern mountains, Charlotte Metro area, and portions of central North Carolina until this evening.”

Additionally, many roads are considered to be hazardous, and “people who do not need to travel are urged to stay off the roads,” the news release stated.

The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services warned if you lose or have lost power, to prevent deadly carbon monoxide poisoning, “never use a gas-powered generator or other fuel-burning appliance indoors or in the garage,” McClatchy previously reported.

Weathering the storm

“If you are impacted by this storm, Governor Cooper and North Carolina Emergency Management officials urge you to:

• Monitor weather forecasts closely.

• Keep enough non-perishable food in your home for three days.

• Keep fresh batteries on hand for weather radios and flashlights.

• Dress warmly. Wear multiple layers of thin clothing instead of a single layer of thick clothing.

• Bring pets indoors during the storm and cold weather.

• Be careful if you use an alternative heat source, and make sure you know how to use it safely. Properly vent kerosene heaters and keep any electric generators outside and away from open windows or doors to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning. Never burn charcoal indoors.

• Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle. Include scraper, jumper cables, tow chain, sand/salt, blankets, flashlight, first aid kit and road map.”

SOURCE: NC Governor Roy Cooper

Dr. John Jacob Freiberger, anesthesiologist and hyperbaric medicine specialist at Duke, discusses the danger of carbon monoxide poisoning associated with the use of generators.

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Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.

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