Spirits light, power dim on Ocracoke, Hatteras Islands
Posted July 28
Buxton, N.C. — Repair crews had their first look Friday at a damaged cable that caused a power outage on the Outer Banks.
Residents have been in the dark since Thursday morning, when a construction crew working on the new Bonner Bridge inadvertently cut a transmission cable. Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Thursday evening for the communities, and authorities asked all non-residents to leave Ocracoke Island
Dare County issued a mandatory evacuation order for Hatteras Island Friday evening due to the power outage. The county said the growing uncertainty to when the power will be restored has created safety issues. The order includes Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras. Visitors are asked to leave the island by 6 a.m.
Laura Ertle, a spokeswoman for Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, said employees of the Roanoke, Virginia-based company that erected the cable on the original Bonner Bridge in 1995 would dig up the cable and assess the damage before any estimate on a fix could be made.
"Once they get here and put eyes on it, then we'll have a really better sense of what we're looking at in terms of repair time," she said.
If the necessary materials are on hand, repairs could take several days, Ertle said. If the items are not available locally, repairs could take weeks.
Gov. Roy Cooper on Thursday declared a state of emergency, lifting weight restrictions for equipment needed to restore power or supply food, fuel and other necessities to those affected.
“This declaration will allow us to move much needed resources through the state as quickly as possible to help restore the power to Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands,” Cooper said in a statement.
An estimated 10,000 tourists saw their vacation plans were blacked out by the evacuation order. Through Friday, the North Carolina Department of Transportation estimated that a little more than 2,400 people and 893 cars had left Ocracoke Island.
Austin Wicker, visiting Ocracoke Island from Charlotte, kept his spirits light even when the power went out.
"It's always worth the drive just for 10 minutes of that view," he said.
Those who remained were asked to limit their use of electricity – no air conditioning, no dishwashers, no television – while CHEC worked to deploy portable generators and planned to fix the damage.
Jeff Morey was in the minority Friday afternoon, headed back to Ocracoke. A year-round resident, he had left to pick up generators and fans to sustain himself and neighbors through the outage.
Corey Kick and family were roaming on a golf cart on Hatteras Island, looking for open signs, and finding few.
"We have been out here since last Saturday glamping at the Hatteras Sands Campground until the power went out, and we're actually camping, which wasn't what we planned for, but it's been okay," Kick said.
Only full-time residents can go back on the islands. Richard Waldrop said he will be making the best of it.
"We'll be boating and beaching and staying out of the house," he said. "We've got a generator in the back."
It is unknown when repairs will be completed and power will be restored on the islands. Local officials said it could be weeks.