(Reuters) - U.S. Southeast power companies said nearly 440,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina and South Carolina were without power on Friday as Hurricane Florence hit the coast.
Florence made landfall on Friday morning near Wrightsville Beach in southeast North Carolina as a Category 1 storm on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour (150 kph), according to the U.S. National Hurricane Center.
GRAPHIC: Hurricane Florence - tmsnrt.rs/2p5XM5i
Heavy rain, wind gusts and rising floodwater from Florence swamped the Carolinas as the massive storm crawled toward the coast, threatening millions of people in its path with record rainfall and punishing surf.
Duke Energy Corp, the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million and 3 million outages. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, it said.
Duke said it had more than 20,000 personnel ready to start fixing outages as soon as conditions allowed, including over 8,000 from the Duke’s Carolinas utilities, 1,700 from the Midwest, 1,200 from Florida and 9,400 from other utilities.
Reporting by Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas