Hurricane Florence Power Outage Could Top 3 Million Customers

September 14, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

As Hurricane Florence continues its assault on the Carolinas and Virginia, the eyewall has just reached the Carolina coastline and threatens to dump record rainfall on parts of the region.  By early this morning, some areas of coastal North Carolina had already seen as much as 20 inches of rainfall with some estimates now as high as 30 inches.  Wilmington, North Carolina experienced the strongest wind gusts it has seen in 60 years and more than 500,000 customers are already without power across the impacted areas.  The Weather Channel projecting that number could reach as high as three million. 

Residents who ignored evacuation orders are now rethinking their decisions after floodwaters rose to almost 15 feet overnight and its downtown areas is already mostly underwater.  Some 350 residents of New Bern have either been rescued and taken to shelter or are still awaiting assistance in what has become a very dangerous situation as the rain and flooding continue. 

“It's like a bomb has gone off here,” George Zaytoun told Good Morning America.  Zaytoun is one of the residents who chose to stay, hoping to be able to help others in need.  "Everything around us is underwater.”

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has said the utility sector is prepared for Florence:  “We’ve done this many times before.  We know how to manage expectations.  We know how to prepare our plants for these types of major events.”

Preparedness by local and national agencies notwithstanding – and there are more than a dozen nuclear reactors in the storm’s path that are being actively monitored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission – the storm and massive outages it will have cause will leave many businesses and their employees in jeopardy given projected damage and extent of outages, which could last several weeks. 

This is just the start of the Atlantic hurricane season and its starting off in furious fashion.  But, with more likely to come, businesses should also take necessary precautions, including protecting their technology investments.  While most businesses may not suffer extreme damage, power outages are a concern, as they can cause circuitry in equipment to fail, rendering them inoperable.  Particularly in post-storm conditions, repair and replacement can take weeks or longer, resulting in very significant business losses beyond direct storm damage.  In fact, most businesses won’t suffer any physical damage at all, but damaged equipment can force them to shutter operations for an extended period while repairs are made.

Power protection systems and UPS equipment will protect network and other technology and ensure they are not impacted by power surges and spikes during outages.  They can be fitted for any size business to shield any critical systems and infrastructure, so when power is restored and workers are able to return to work, operations can resume normally.

Edited by Erik Linask