Lineman head to NC to help ahead of Florence

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– Duke Energy says it has the largest force they’ve ever had in place right now to respond to the storm.
20,000 workers are on standby now, many from other states, ready to help get the lights back on.

“Help has arrived, help is here,” said lineman Abel Hernandez from Florida Power and Light. He drove up from Miami to help Duke Energy crews ahead of Hurricane Florence. 

He says being here is an honor.

“It’s the right thing to do when someone asks for help. The right thing to do is to help out,” Hernandez said. 

He says he’s been through his share of hurricanes.

“When they come they don’t play no games they come to destroy.”

Which is why his team made the long drive up to North Carolina. 

“That’s what we’re here to do help get the power get back on and see the smiles when the lights turn on,” Hernandez said. 

Duke Energy says of the 20,000 people in place to help get the lights on after the storm, 1,200 came from Florida. 

“We’ve got the largest workforce we’ve ever had before a hurricane and the size of Florence looks like we’ll need it,” Randy Wheeless with Duke Energy said. 

Despite the reinforcements, Duke predicts one to three million people will be without power after Hurricane Florence rips through the area. And those power outages, they say, could last several weeks.

Crews are staging near the Bojangles Coliseum and the Charlotte Motor Speedway, ready to respond when needed.

After the storm, crews will give priority to critical infrastructures first, then work on fixing lines that will restore power to the most people, but downed trees and flooding could cause delays.

“We have a really good game plan after the storm does its damage,” said Hernandez. 

Energy United is also bringing in reinforcements. Officials say they have nearly 300 employees on standby.   

“We appreciate the patience our customers have shown us in the past and have to beg for more patience this time too,” Wheeless said.