Local News

Triangle Slowly Digs Out As Power Slowly Gets Restored

Posted December 5, 2002

— Triangle residents are hoping to keep warm for the next few days after an early dose of wintry weather knocked out power in most of the area.

Nearly 500,000 people still were without power in the area as of 3 p.m. Thursday. Linemen from power companies struggled to stay ahead in a seemingly losing battle to return the area to full power.

In Raleigh's Cameron Park neighborhood, near Hillsbourgh Street, residents said it looked and sounded like a war zone.

Kathy Edwards lost power around 2:30 in the morning.

"Well, we don't have heat," Edwards said. "We have sort of a fire place, a fire place that we're going to use."

Like many Thursday, gas logs were Edwards' only source of warmth. Down the street from her, Peter Fair did not get much sleep.

"Every once in a while, you hear a tree crack, and you wonder if it was going to end up in bed with you," Fair said.

Though many roads appeared passable, falling tree limbs and temperatures that refused to lift too many degrees above freezing still made for hazardous conditions.

Some people seemed relieved to know that the storm did not turn into a duplicate of the big snowstorm in January 2000. But forecasters said a snow storm probably would have been preferable to an ice storm.

The ice may have caused a lot more power outages than the snow did, and the ice certainly hindered power companies' efforts to repair the outages.

Most of the outages were caused by trees that fell on power lines, weighted down by ice, and power lines themselves that buckled under pounds of ice.

Two power lines fell across all four lanes of Highway 64 at Edgecombe and Rolesville causing a huge backup of traffic Thursday.

Like the mythical Greek character Sisyphus, who tried to repeatedly push a huge boulder up a steep hill only to have the boulder roll back down just as he got to the top, linemen watched new power lines fall for each one they repaired.

"We're getting calls all day long," said Julie Hans, a spokesperson for Carolina Power and Light. "The numbers of people who need to be restored are coming down - we've restored 200,000 since midnight - but trees keep falling on power lines, and additional outages occur.

"The crews are well-prepared to deal with this. People just need to do their best to stay comfortable and be patient. Some customers may have power back today, but some may have to wait for a couple of days," she said.

In the meantime, all residents could do was make do as well as they could.

Fair's plan was to make it through involved his camping skills and gear.

"A lot of good books, a lot of hot tea," Fair said. "[I just] set up the camping stove, so I'm able to get by with that."


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