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Mutual Aid At Its Best- Hurricane Season 2018

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On September 14, Hurricane Florence made itself comfortable above the Carolina coast, soaking the state for days; then, barely one month later, Hurricane Michael left a mark of its own. Thanks to a coordinated communications plan and the extraordinary efforts of our brave utility workers, public power communities throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia were prepared for the worst, and soon had their power restored.

It wasn’t the most powerful storm ever to make landfall over North Carolina. But when Hurricane Florence swept ashore as a Category 1 storm on September 14, it brought with it three days of unrelenting rain and wind that leveled power lines and inundated homes.

Almost one month later, Hurricane Michael smashed into the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 hurricane; then, weakened but still dangerous, it tracked across the Carolinas, uprooting trees and darkening homes as it passed.

A detailed chronicle of the toll exacted by these storms could fill the pages of a book. Let it suffice to say that at the peak of its wrath, Hurricane Florence left nearly 1 million North Carolinians without power; at its worst, Hurricane Michael plunged half a million people into darkness. Rivers overflowed their banks, sweeping cars from bridges and roads. At times, downed trees crushed homes and prevented emergency services from reaching ailing residents. In total, the two storms wreaked more than $31 billion in damage and cost 44 North Carolinians their lives.

And yet:

We showed up.

Three days after Florence made landfall, 80 percent of Fayetteville customers and 83 percent of New Bern customers had their power restored. These were two of our hardest hit communities. Twenty-six member communities reported no outages at all. Twenty-four hours after Michael swept through, public power crews had restored electricity to the majority of our customers. Braving venomous snakes, falling tree limbs, flash floods, and the risk of electrocution, they did not stop until the roads were clear and the lights were back on.

This was made possible by coordinated planning between state and local officials, a unified communications strategy, and the tireless efforts of public power workers and emergency services. We thank and honor the extraordinary individuals who, at nature’s worst, showed their best, and who—quite literally—helped put our state back together.

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