(Reuters) - U.S. Southeast power companies said more than 98,000 homes and businesses in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina were without power on Thursday as Hurricane Florence approached the coast.
Florence is a Category 2 storm in the Atlantic Ocean with maximum sustained winds of 100 miles per hour (155 km per hour), the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC) said.
The outer bands of Hurricane Florence drenched the Carolinas on Thursday, flooding roads, gorging rivers and knocking out power in an ominous glimpse of the damage the storm could inflict when it makes landfall on Friday with millions of people in its path.
Duke Energy Corp , the biggest utility in the area with over 4 million customers in the Carolinas, estimated the storm could cause between 1 million to 3 million outages. Restoring power to all customers could take weeks, the utility warned.
Duke said it has more than 20,000 personnel ready to start fixing outages as soon as conditions allow, including over 8,000 from the Duke's Carolinas utilities, 1,700 from the company's Midwest utilities, 1,200 from the company's Florida utility and another 9,400 from other utilities.
(Reporting by Swati Verma and Scott DiSavino; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)