Many obstacles have plagued NP&Lís ability
to supply electricity to western North Carolina. Among those
are the numerous natural disasters that have caused multiple interruptions
to service since 1929. Rain, snow, and wind have hampered
the flow of electricity in recent decades. Events such as the
flood of 1940 was caused by a record rainfall of 8.7 inches in
less than 24 hours and the NP&L dam on Lake Emory reached
a flood stage of thirteen feet above normal level. Another flood,
dubbed the "almost flood of 1940" occurred in the late 1980s.
Fred Alexander recalls the cloudburst. "The dams were down for
maintenance when the water came up 48 feet in three hours." To
meet these challenges, NP&L has devised a plan to protect
their dams from flooding.
NP&L was also affected by a hurricane in
October 1995. Hurricane Opal entered western North Carolina at
tropical storm strength. It caused electrical outages, downed
trees, and damaged homes. The power was out for 54,000 of NP&L's
customers. There were more than 50 broken poles in Macon County
During the Blizzard of '93 23 inches of snow
accumulated in 48 hours in Macon County. One hundred and ninety-five
NP&L workers and the 350+ Duke workers with the assistance
of more than 150 contract workers worked to restore power. Out
of 51,000 customers who lost power only 3500 customers without
power a week later.
The company also found time to assist in power
restoration for other areas affected by natural disasters. Even
with the many emergencies in their own districts the company was
able to help restore power in Greensboro after Hurricane Fran
in 1996, in Brevard after an ice storm in 1997, and in Puerto
Rico in 1998.
Many more interruptions to service are documented.
Lightning and windstorms caused numerous interruptions to service
to the area in NP&L's history. Later, thunderstorms and snowstorms
also caused outages in the area. Most outages were minor, lasting