More than 80,000 without power in North Carolina as Florence moves closer

Power outages in North Carolina have increased as a weakened and slower Hurricane Florence moves closer to the coast.

The two major electric utilities covering the state —Duke Energy and Dominion— and a consortium of electric cooperatives reported more than 80,000 customers without power as of early Thursday evening. That doesn’t include numbers from dozens of city-operated electricity providers.

Almost two-thirds of the reported outages originated in Carteret County, along the coast about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northeast of Wilmington, North Carolina. There were also several thousand outages each in Craven, Pamlico and Onslow counties.

The numbers are expected to soar as the storm’s winds and torrential rains sweep over more land. Duke anticipates 1 million to 3 million of their 4 million customers in the Carolinas will lose power from Florence.

North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says there are over 12,000 people in 126 shelters as the first effects of Hurricane Florence begin to batter the state.

Cooper spoke at a news conference Thursday afternoon with state emergency management officials. The governor said tens of thousands are without power and roads are beginning to flood along the coast.

The governor said those were “early warnings of the days to come.”

Cooper says officials are also in the process of opening more shelters because demand is expected to continue to increase.