NICHOLS, S.C. (WBTW) — In a never-been-done-before project in the U.S., Duke Energy has come up with a way for flood protection ahead of hurricane season.

They have developed and installed multi-layered barriers to keep flood waters out and respond quicker to power outages during flood situations.

“We put a lot of thought, did a lot of research, went around the country to see what others were doing in this space and we learned that we are the first utility to do this type of effort,” said Ryan Mosier with Corporate Communications.

According to a release from Duke Energy:

Grid improvements scheduled to start in 2021 will deliver benefits to nearly 100,000 Duke Energy customers in the Pee Dee region of the state. Improvements include upgrading poles and wires, placing outage-prone lines underground, adding flood protection around essential systems and strengthening the grid against severe weather, an installing smart, self-healing technology that automatically detects power outages and quickly reroutes service to other lines to restore power faster.

Total South Carolina grid improvements scheduled to start in 2021 will deliver benefits to nearly 360,000 Duke Energy customers across South Carolina.

“The last hurricane, you know we were without power for over five weeks because this substation was down,” Nichols Mayor Lawson Battle said. “It seemed like five months or five years because even at Green Sea Floyd’s High School, Middle School and Elementary School, the kids couldn’t go to school in the middle of the school year. People couldn’t start back redoing their homes,” Battle continued.

The Nichols substation also services Lakeview and the Green Sea area in Horry County.

“Which means a lot and it’s not just for the town of Nichols. I believe they service about 2200 households in this region,” said Kent Williams, a state senator for district 30.

Mosier said customers can still have impacts from a hurricane, but these barriers will reduce the time it takes to restore power and will prevent them from having to rebuild flooded substations in the future.

“There could be trees down, lines down and that recovery is going to continue but when those repairs are made the power will be there ready to supply those homes and businesses just as soon as the recovery takes place,” Mosier said.

Duke Energy is in the process of installing six other grid improvements around the region to continue preventing flood threats.