Western North Carolina residents can anticipate heavy rain and gusty winds starting later today and lasting through Tuesday. There are flood watches for Cherokee, Graham, Clay, Macon and Jackson counties and flood warnings for Swain, Haywood, Buncombe, Madison, Henderson and Transylvania counties.
Fred Alexander, the district Duke Power representative, said that widespread power outages are expected from such high winds. Alexander also said that even after the storm is over with, trees can still fall on power lines.
Alexander also warns of the dangers of coming into contact with a downed power line. “If you see a fallen power line or safety hazard involving our equipment, call Duke Energy at 1-800-POWERON and select Option 2 or contact your local emergency services immediately. Keep others away until help arrives and for your own safety, do not touch a power line or anything touching a power line such as limbs, tools and toys.”
Residents can view power outages by county online at www.duke-energy.com/north-carolina/outages/current.asp. To report a power outage, call 1-800-769-3766.
Reservoir operations are already being put into place to increase the storage capacities of the reservoirs. Alexander said that by increasing storage capacity, it will reduce effects of the high waters up to a point. “While capturing as much as possible of the storm waters, the reservoirs cannot prevent flooding. With enough rain, reservoirs fill and waters run through and on downstream.” Anyone wishing for more information about lake levels and the locations of the Nantahala Area hydro projects can visit www.duke-energy.com/lakes/nanatahala/nantahala-lake-levels.asp or call 1-800-829-5253.
Below are some tips, provided by Alexander, for before a storm, during a storm and after a storm:
Before Severe Weather Strikes:
Have a portable radio, TV, or NOAA Weather Radio on hand to monitor weather forecasts and other important information in your area.
Have a plan to move yourself and your family-especially those with special needs-to an alternate location in case you have to evacuate or experience an extended power outage.
Keep a supply of water and non-perishable food items on hand.
Ensure first aid supplies and all medicines are readily available.
Make sure flashlights are readily available and working and that a supply of extra batteries is on hand.
Consider the need for specialty items such as prescription medication, baby food, additional warm clothing, and a safe heat source.
Homeowners who depend on well water should draw an emergency water supply in case power to their electric water pumps is interrupted.
If you have an emergency heating or power source, learn how to use it properly.
Have at least one traditional analog phone in your home that does not require electricity to operate. Cordless phones and phones with built-in answering machines will no operate during a power outage.
During Severe Weather:
Continue to monitor the media for important information.
If you experience a power outage, please alert Duke Energy by calling the automated outage reporting system at 1-800-POWERON. Spanish speaking customers should call 1-866-4APAGON for outage reporting assistance.
If you anticipate an extended outage, consider moving yourself and your family-especially those with special needs-to an alternate location.
Consider checking on others who may benefit from your assistance.
Consider all downed power lines and anything touching them energized and DANGEROUS! Do not get near them and report the problem to Duke Energy.
Do no open freezers and refrigerators any more than absolutely necessary. Opening these appliances will allow food to thaw more quickly.
During severe weather or power outages, turn off as many appliances and electronics as possible. This will reduce the potential for damage or fire. After the power is restored, wait 5 to 10 minutes before turning them back on.
After Severe Weather:
Replenish your supplies of batteries, bottled water and non-perishable food items in preparation for future storms.
Have a licensed electrician disconnect your generator unless the generator has an automatic disconnection device.
Safety Around Power Lines:
Stay away from downed or sagging power lines, and do not touch anything that in on or near a power line.
Keep children and family pets away from areas where lines may have fallen such as backyards, fields and school yards.
If a power line falls across a car that you are in, stay in the car. If you MUST get out of the car due to a fire or other immediate, life-threatening situation, do your best to jump clear of the car and land on both feet. Be sure that no part of your body is touching the car when your feet touch the ground.
Report all power line hazards to Duke Energy.