'Like hurricane-level damage': Thousands remain without power, cleanup to last days after severe weather

View The Original Article Here

— A band of severe thunderstorms brought down trees and knocked out power to thousands across the Triangle on Friday evening.

Residents went to bed on Friday night without power in both Wake and Durham counties. Many of those same families woke up this morning still without power.

On Saturday morning, more than 40,000 people in the Raleigh area were waking up without power. While Duke Energy estimates power will be restored to most customers on Saturday, some customers in areas like Knightdale said Duke Energy told them their power will not be resorted until Sunday night.

As of Saturday afternoon, the number of customers without power in the Raleigh area was down to just under 20,000.

Some residents told WRAL News they had been without power for more than 12 hours.

Jeff Brooks with Duke Energy said the Triangle took a bigger hit from Friday’s storms than many may realize.

“This is very much like hurricane-level damage that we are seeing,” said Brooks.

Duke Energy said in a statement posted to their website around 7:30 a.m.:

“Crews worked through the night, making repairs and further assessing the damage from Friday’s severe storms. Extra line workers & tree crews from other areas are coming in to assist our hardest hit communities. With drier conditions in the forecast, we expect many customers to have service restored today; however, in areas where damage is more isolated and severe, it may take longer to get everyone back on. Updated estimates will be provided as we progress. We greatly appreciate your patience.”

The outages were widespread and not concentrated to one area in Wake County. For the most part, however, outages were in the southern portion of Wake County and north Raleigh was spared.

Jelisa Miller, who lives in southeast Raleigh, lost power at 6 p.m. and was still without power at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

“It’s very disheartening to say the least,” she said. “Almost $400 worth of deep frozen food and meat spoiled, work and home maintenance delayed, all in the climbing temperatures of summer.”

Miller said this isn’t the first time that Duke Energy has been slow to respond in her neighborhood.

“My neighborhood was also affected during the last storm on May 27, where my home was without power for close to 16 hours for the same reason,” she said.

Miller has been spending a lot more time in her vehicle.

“It is really muggy in the house and I can’t,” said Miller. “I have no way to charge my phone.”

She said she’s just glad temperatures are not as high as they have been in recent days.

“I would be a puddle on the floor,” said Miller.

Some customers in Wake County, including areas of Knightdale, were told by Duke Energy that their estimated time of restoration would be Sunday night at 11 p.m. Others in Johnston County and Nash County said they were told similar wait times.

Brooks said crews first worked to quickly repair main lines, but this storm caused damage in many more areas.

Brooks told WRAL News around 18 hundred line workers are on the job in the triangle and more are coming in from surrounding areas.

“They are going to keep working until everybody is restored,” said Brooks.

Temperatures are expected to reach 87 in Raleigh on Saturday, and while there is no heat advisory in effect, temperatures can be dangerous above 80 degrees for prolonged periods of time for older adults and babies, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Some customers told WRAL News they were without running water. For most customers in the Wake County area, this is not an issue, but for those who receive their water from a well, they were not able to have running water.

Friday night’s storm damage

Heavy winds created damage in Chapel Hill, and trees were reported down in Chatham County, and in Mebane.

A lightning strike in Wake Forest sparked a brush fire off Highway 98. Serena Westra captured a 15-second video of the fire. Holly Rund also took a 30-second video of the fire.

In Cary, a tree fell on a car, injuring one person. The Cary Police Department said it happened at Keisler Drive and Tryon Road.

A husband and wife had pulled into a parking lot to wait out the severe weather before a large tree fell on their car, police said. The husband had minor cuts to his forehead and the wife refused treatment, according to the police.

“We had a significant storm impact us last night around 6:45 that took down a large number of trees throughout Cary. The majority of roads have been cleared, but three areas (Park St, Tanglewood, and Pamlico) have trees down in power lines that Duke Energy will need to make safe before we can complete removal,” said Cary’s Public Works Director, Matthew Flynn. “Our focus today and tomorrow will be on completing road clearing, and making sure our Facilities are safe. We will then transition to clean up which will likely last a week or two.”

An uprooted tree, as well as downed power lines, in Dix Park Friday night led to the City of Raleigh canceling the Oberlin Village Heritage 5K on Saturday.

The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said late Friday night a person died after a tree fell on them in Franklin County. Happened around 6:35 p.m. on Cleghorns 1 Drive in Youngsville.

A man in Rocky Mount is recovering after lightning struck him during Friday’s storm. His wife told WRAL News he was working on their AC unit behind their home when he was struck by lightning.

In Durham, a massive tree fell on a garage on Pervis Road.

Also, several large trees crashed through roofs in Garner. Josh Carlisle shared several photos and a video of the damage on his Twitter page.

The storm had moved out of Wake County to the south and east by 7:30 p.m., and clearer skies and less humidity are behind the front.