CAPE HATTERAS, N.C. (WAVY) — Officials in Hyde County have issued a state of emergency for Ocracoke Island due to a massive power outage affecting parts of the Outer Banks.
A mandatory evacuation has been ordered for visitors to Ocracoke Island as well. No one is allowed on the island unless they can prove residency.
Tideland Electric Membership Corporation says that PCL Construction — the company working on the new Bonner Bridge — drove a steel casing into the underground transmission cable that runs near the bridge around 4:30 Thursday morning, which caused the outage.
At last check, the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative’s (CHEC) website showed 7,700 outages between Ocracoke and Hatteras islands.
Transmission repair crews will arrive at Oregon Inlet on Friday evening to assess the damage. Repairs could take days to weeks.
CHEC is currently providing temporary power to Buxton, Frisco and part of Hatteras Village by diesel generators.
Tideland Electric says an attempt to run the Ocracoke generator earlier Thursday wasn’t successful and resulted in damage that makes it inoperable. Three mobile generators will arrive at the island Friday to get the island circuits started. Friday evening is the earliest anyone can expect power to be back on, according to Tideland.
Once the generators are online, CHEC will begin rolling blackouts. The cooperative says this will only be possible if residents TURN OFF their air conditioning and minimize other electrical usages to conserve energy.
Residents are also being asked to shut off all non-essential breakers, and to limit the use of refrigerators and fans.
Meteorologist Jeremy Wheeler says the Hatteras area should expect temperatures in the upper 80’s Thursday, with a southwest breeze. There may be a stray shower during the day, but that chance is low.
According to CHEC, the outages have not impacted the local ferries, roads or bridges.
The North Carolina Ferry Division is assisting with visitor evacuations on Ocracoke Island. Hyde County officials are requesting that visitors be off the island by noon on Friday. Tolls will be waived for ferries on trips between Ocracoke and Cedar Island or Swan Quarter.
The Dare County Water Department has issued a water conservation alert for Hatteras Island customers. Residents and visitors are asked to take special measures to conserve water as much as possible because water production capacity is diminished due to the power outage. The water is still safe to drink.
To reduce the risk of fire during a power outage, use flashlights or battery-powered lanterns instead of candles. Remember that portable generators should only be used outdoors.
Dare County Emergency Management is working with various federal, state and local partners to assist the Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative.
All Dare County services remain available. If emergency assistance is needed, dial 911.
CHEC and Tideland Electric are providing periodic updates on their Facebook pages. You can also text “Join Hatteras Power” to 51664 to receive updates from Dare County Emergency Management.