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UPDATE: Crews working to bring power back to two NC islands – WDBJ7

OUTER BANKS, NC (AP)– UPDATE:

The construction company that acknowledged cutting an electric transmission cable that provides power to two North Carolina islands is digging at the site to determine the extent of the damage.

Officials said it could be days or weeks before it’s fixed.

PCL Construction, which is building a new bridge between the Outer Banks and the mainland, said it accidentally drove a steel casing into the underground transmission cable on the south side of Oregon Inlet yesterday.

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative said its crews worked through the night to provide intermittent power from a nearby diesel generating plant and two portable generators. Officials said the portable generators struggled to carry the load on the circuits, and people are being asked to minimize usage.

The cooperative said additional portable generators arrived on the island Friday morning, with more on the way.

ORIGINAL STORY:

Thousands of tourists who spent the winter dreaming of summer vacation on the Outer Banks now face an abrupt end to their trip and what could be a chaotic ride back to the mainland after a construction company cut an electrical wire, causing a power outage.

Officials, concerned about people’s safety, have ordered a mandatory evacuation for an estimated 10,000 visitors on Ocracoke Island by noon Friday. Meanwhile, Gov. Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency for Ocracoke and Hatteras islands Thursday night.

The outage comes during peak tourist season, which runs from mid-June through Labor Day.

People began leaving Ocracoke Island late Thursday. Northeast of Ocracoke in the town of Rodanthe, Coleen Gauker says people keep coming into Island Convenience store asking for something cold. And she says the answer is no. Gauker told The Virginian-Pilot of Norfolk there are no cold options.

The food that is available is in the deli-cafe located in the back of the store, where Aaron Howe and Dolly Gray worked with flashlights to make sausage biscuits on a gas stove.

“It’s the only location in town where you can get a bite,” Howe told the newspaper. “It might take a while but we’ll get it done.”

But it’s cash only with the registers down.

Gas stations on Ocracoke were selling the last of their supply Thursday night, and ice cream was selling for half price at the Slushy Stand as people tried to keep cool.

“Believe me, it was a little toasty last night,” Andrea Wayda of New Jersey told the newspaper Friday morning before she and Patrick Jobe left on a ferry. The two stayed in a cabana with a pool during their visit.

Erica Plouffe Lazure was visiting Ocracoke from Exeter, New Hampshire, with a friend, but had to cut her trip short and head north to Elizabeth City. She said two restaurants on Ocracoke were using generators to stay open, but the motel she booked for her stay closed after its generator exploded minutes after it was started.

“There’s a lot of hot, sweaty people here,” Lazure said, adding that she tried to book a motel farther up the North Carolina coast, only to find they were either sold out or asking as much as $500 a night.

“This is a beautiful island and I waited two years to come back here because it’s one of my favorite places in the world,” she said. “I’m a little bummed that the power has gotten in the way, but, till next time.”
Once off the island, tourists may face a slow, crowded ride as they maneuver N.C. Highway 12. The two-lane road is the only north-south roadway along the Outer Banks.

The power went out about 4:30 a.m. Thursday. Officials said about 9,000 customers are without power on the two islands — about 7,700 on Hatteras and another 1,300 on Ocracoke.

The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative said in a news release Thursday that PCL Construction told the utility it had driven a steel casing into an electric transmission cable while working on the new Bonner Bridge on the state’s coast, inadvertently cutting off power to Ocracoke and Hatteras islands.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation’s Ferry Division said priority boarding is suspended for all vehicles leaving Ocracoke. Tolls will be waived for ferry trips between Ocracoke and Cedar Island or Swan Quarter.

The electric cooperative said power is currently available for Buxton, Frisco and part of Hatteras Village through a diesel generating plant. The cooperative said it also would initiate rolling blackouts, but only if people turn off air conditioning units and minimize other electrical usage. Ten portable generators were being brought in.

Rob Temple, a boat captain on Ocracoke Island, had a large group booked for Thursday night, but only a handful of people showed up after the power outage. Still, he seemed to take it in stride Friday as he waited in a line of cars for a ferry off the island to take his daughter to a movie in nearby Nags Head. Their house has been without power since early Thursday morning.

“We get hurricanes sometimes in the middle of the season and you have to be prepared for this,” he said.

Source: world

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