RALEIGH, NC — The Christmas weekend got off to a terrible start for many people in the Triangle, when outages meant a lack of heat for people who stayed indoors on a day when cold air blasted through the southeast.
As of Friday night, temperatures had dropped into single-digit wind chills, and thousands of families were still without power — and heat. Power crews were at work 2012 on the Christmas weekend to try to restore power to families.
At the peak of the power outages on Friday evening, more than 200,000 customers were without power in North Carolina as wind speeds rose to more than 40 miles per hour in some parts of the state. Wake County saw more than 25,000 outages, the most of any county in the state. County Durham had more than 5,000. In Johnston County, more than 7,000 were without power.
As of 11 pm Friday night, about 10,000 were still without power in the Triangle – including Wake, Durham and Orange County.
Crews at Duke Energy were still working to restore power to customers Friday night. High winds delayed their work during the day.
A portion of Millbrook Road near the Falls of Neuse was still blocked by downed power lines just before midnight, with families in the area experiencing close to 10 hours without power. Some were making last minute plans to stay safe.
Instead of enjoying a relaxing holiday weekend, Tashyra Fowler, mother of a 9-month-old, said the lack of power made it difficult to keep her baby warm and fed.
“It’s been kind of stressful,” she said.
Late at night, Fowler was taking her child for a ride in the car just to stay warm. They will be staying with the family tonight.
Isaac Fernandez, of Raleigh, lives just feet away from the tree that barely made it when it fell. With no heat, he has spent the evening lounging around the fireplace with his family.
“Hopping around the chimney and making hot potatoes, that’s what we’re up to,” he said.
“This is all hands on deck,” said Duke Energy’s Jeff Brooks. “We all had vacation plans just like everyone else but we put those aside because our customers are our first priority. Because this is a statewide event, we couldn’t move employees to one location, so What we’re doing is looking at… the hardest areas, and then we’ll start shifting resources to help those areas.”
Trees and power lines cancel some holiday events
One of the most dramatic signs of damage came in Rocky Mount. A series of utility poles were knocked down on Benvenue Road, the road was closed and police and power crews were called in to repair the damage.
In the Triangle, there were several intersections without functioning traffic lights. Power was knocked out at Highway 54 and Farrington Road, creating a dangerous situation at a busy intersection between Durham and Chapel Hill.
Many viewers posted photos of fallen trees or toppled Christmas decorations. Trees were more likely to fall after Thursday’s rain that soaked the soil.
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Temperatures are expected to drop into the teens Friday night, and wind chills could drop ‘feeling’ temperatures into the single digits Saturday morning.