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Hurricane Florence Batters North Carolina with Coastal Damage and River Flooding

Sept. 21, 2018
One North Carolina rep said aid about 75 distributor locations had been in the direct path of the storm and that 30 of those branches were in areas of significant wind and flooding.

While distributors, reps and contractors and utility workers in the Carolinas have been through more than their share of hurricanes over the years, they will always remember Hurricane Florence as being a little bit different. In addition to the widespread power outages and coastal flooding caused by past storms, Hurricane Florence hit interior parts of North Carolina with record-breaking floods that closed down highways and key roads and cut off some coastal communities from the rest of the state.

According to a report at, several rivers in southeastern North Carolina that merge just north of Wilmington, NC, will break flood stage records, including the Cape Fear River in Fayetteville, NC; the Northeast Cape Fear River near Burgaw, NC; and the Black River near Currie, NC.

Duke Power is the largest electric utility in North Carolina, and over the past week it had restored power to more than 1 million customers. At press-time, said there were still 114,389 power outages. In some of the more rural parts of the state, rural electric cooperatives were working around the clock to restore power to customers.According to a Sept. 12 press release issued by the Edison Electric Institute, rural cooperatives from around the country were preparing to help Carolina coops well before the storm hit land. According to a post on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s website, its members will be working for at least another week to restore power.

“Crews in the field work 16 hours a day, but then they get rest breaks and stand down overnight,” said Gay Johnson, director of corporate communications at Four County Electric Membership Corp. in Burgaw, NC, in the post at “We expect to be doing this for about two weeks. We’ve got staffers who have been displaced out of their homes by flooding and their families are in shelters, but they’re on the job.”

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson said in the Edison Electric Institute release, “For nearly a week, electric cooperatives have coordinated recovery and mutual assistance plans ahead of Hurricane Florence’s arrival, and are prepared to respond to extended outages around the clock as soon as weather conditions allow.”

Richard Franklin, area manager for eastern North Carolina for the Electri-Products Group rep firm, said about 75 distributor locations were in the direct path of the storm and that 30 of those branches were in areas of significant wind and flooding. He said as of Thursday, only handful of the branches were still closed and that the products in highest demand were generators, twist-locks, load centers, breakers, straps, split bolts, molded splices and taps, weatherheads, PVC pipe & fittings, meter cases, grounding connectors, service entrance wire and extension cords.

Tony Macrito, W.W. Grainger’s manager for media relations, told EM in an email that the company’s branches in the Carolinas are all “open for business and stocked with supplies and equipment our customers need to help them recover from the storm. He said Grainger has a 24/7 response room to “support the field, with team members from inventory, transportation, real estate, security and human resources.”
“We typically see a high demand for products like shelter supplies and sand bags for each storm, and with power outages and flooding being common challenges this past week, generators, pumps and related products have been in high demand,” he added.

Grainger has a section of its website dedicated to hurricane recovery and assists several nonprofit relief organizations with their storm recovery efforts — American Red Cross and Team Rubicon, an international, veteran-led disaster response organization that unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.
To date, Grainger has provided Team Rubicon with $120,000 in donations and products including high-visibility vests, first aid kits, utility knives, hard hats, person flotation device SOS beacons, hammers and buckets. The company has also donated more than $15,000 in product to the American Red Cross, including extension cords and leather gloves.


Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
About as Bad as You Can Imagine