A Florida utility is preparing for power outages astoward the state's Gulf Coast region, where it is expected to turn into a Category 3 hurricane before making landfall on Wednesday.
Duke Energy said Monday it is mobilizing 4,500 employees, including power line technicians, vegetation workers, damage assessors and support personnel, to respond to any disruptions to the electric grid in potentially affected areas.
"Duke Energy is actively monitoring Idalia's path, intensity and timing, and staging resources in safe locations to respond to outages as soon as it's safe to do so," Todd Fountain, storm director at Duke Energy Florida, said in a statement. "As we prepare to respond, it's important our customers take this storm seriously and ensure their homes and families are prepared."
Forecasters project that the storm system will make landfall along the west coast of Florida, threatening communities in central parts of the state, including cities like Orlando and Tampa, and up through the panhandle.
"Idalia is now forecast to become a major hurricane before it reaches the Gulf coast of Florida," the National Weather Service tweeted on Monday morning. "The risk continues to increase for life-threatening storm surge and dangerous hurricane-force winds along portions of the west coast of Florida and the Florida Panhandle beginning as early as late Tuesday."
The company's Florida operation, a subsidiary of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy, also advised local residents to prepare for the approaching storm, including:
- Arranging alternative shelter in case of power outages, especially seniors and people with special medical needs.
- Ensuring that people have enough flashlights, batteries, bottled water, nonperishable foods, medicines and other necessities on hand, along with a portable, battery-operated radio, TV or weather radio.
- Arranging backup power for residents who rely on medical equipment and planning on how to transport someone to the nearest hospital in case of an emergency.
Duke Energy also advised Floridians to stay away from downed or sagging power lines. Residents can report such hazards to the utility at (800) 228-8485 or contact local emergency services, the company said.
"Consider all lines energized as well as trees or limbs in contact with lines," Duke Energy noted.
Customers can stay abreast of any power disruptions by signing up for outage alerts, said the company, which supplies electricity to 1.9 million residential, commercial and industrial customers in Florida.
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