RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Dominion Energy is preparing for the worst ahead of the expected rainfall and wind Hurricane Florence could bring.
Crews are working to secure power lines above and below ground since they anticipate flooding and downed trees to cause power outages.
"We know how difficult it is to be without power for a prolonged period of time," said spokesman Rob Richardson. "We want to do everything we can to minimize outages, to minimize the length of outages, and be as prepared as we can to respond."
In 2004, thousands of people in Virginia were without power for weeks due to the damage from Hurricane Gaston.
Since then, Richardson said Dominion has worked to prevent that same situation from happening again.
"We've put some of the outage prone lines underground," he said. "That helps us pull resources from those outages and respond to other outages more quickly."
While the exact path of Florence is still unknown, central Virginia could be dealing with high winds and possible flooding which may uproot trees.
"The trees and branches can break power lines, can break your equipment, utility poles, cross-arms, and wires," Richardson said. "We're going to look at all of those facilities and make sure we're as prepared as we can be when that first drop of rain comes and that first wind gust comes."
Dominion officials also urge residents to stay clear of down power lines as a safety precaution.
"You don't know if those power lines are live or not," Richardson said. "We tell people to stay at least 30 feet away from downed lines and trees that have fallen because sometimes you can't see the power lines entangled in the branches."
Over the next few days the equipment yards at Dominion stations across the state will get restocked with more repair items including utility poles and transformers.
Employees will also work around the clock, both inside headquarters and outdoors, responding to as many outages as possible under safe conditions.
"We won't put our employees in an unsafe situation," Richardson said. "If the weather is not safe to be out in because the winds are too high, or the damage is too bad, then we won't put our employees in those situations until it's safe to do so."
Dominion also plans to respond to the largest outages first to get as many customers back online as possible.
Customers can report outages by calling (866) 366-4357 or report it via the Dominion website.
In the event of severe outages, Richardson urges you to stock up on resources yourself.
"We want folks to maybe get some ice and stick it in your freezer so you're prepared when the lights go out," he said. "Get some cash, in case the ATM machine doesn't work, and non-perishable food for three days."
Due to the unknown path of the storm right now, Richardson said it's possible they may call on resources from elsewhere in the state to come and assist, but that won't be determined until later.
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