400 Duke Energy utility crews heading to hard-hit Carolinas to restore power after Zeta

Tens of thousands of people across the Carolinas woke up on Friday without power after fast-moving tropical storm Zeta swept through the region on Thursday. Duke Energy Florida is deploying 400 crews to help restore electricity and assess the damage to South Carolina's upstate. 

Before Friday's sunrise, half a dozen trucks and 18 linemen left the Duke Energy Clearwater Operations Center, heading to Greenville, South Carolina. Line supervisor Jackie Lynn told FOX 13 that crews already on the ground in the Carolinas will continue working to restore power while crews from out-of-state make their way to the region. 

Tropical Storm Zeta’s powerful winds barreled through western North Carolina and South Carolina's upstate on Thursday, cutting power to more than half a million Duke Energy customers at the height of the storm. 

Duke Energy said more than 2,600 of its Carolinas-based repair workers began what is expected to be a multi-day power restoration process. 

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The utility company is moving more than 650 of its Midwest- and Florida-based repair workers to assist the Carolinas. In addition, Duke has requested supplemental repair crews from other electric utility companies through the Southeastern Electric Exchange. 

As of Friday morning, there were 233,598 households in the Carolinas without power. Beyond restoring power, crews are surveying the extent of damage to utility poles and power lines. 

“I want to thank our customers for their patience and understanding as our crews work to safely restore power as quickly as possible, while also adhering to COVID-related safe work practices,” said Jason Hollifield, Duke Energy’s Carolinas incident commander. “We know this is a particularly difficult time for our customers to lose power, as many are working from home and attending school remotely due to the pandemic.” 

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North Carolina’s hardest-hit counties include: Catawba, Chatham, Cleveland, Davidson, Davie, Forsyth, Gaston, Graham, Guilford, Henderson, Iredell, Lincoln, Macon, McDowell, Mecklenburg, Polk, Randolph, Rockingham, Rowan, Rutherford, Stokes, Swain, Transylvania, Vance and Yadkin. 

South Carolina’s hardest hit counties include: Anderson, Cherokee, Chesterfield, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and York. 

The widespread power outage comes at a critical time, with tens of thousands of people working from home and many students attending school remotely.

Additionally, thousands of voters in the Carolinas have yet to cast their ballots ahead of Tuesday's presidential election.