State News

Spirits light, power dim on Ocracoke, Hatteras Islands

Posted July 28

— 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.

portable generator

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.

6 Comments

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  • Arthur Raleigh Jul 29, 12:27 p.m.
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    Windmills!!!!

  • Andrew Vessey Jul 29, 9:18 a.m.
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    This is real bad for all the businesses that rely on us visitors. Some are handling it better than others and I applaud all the hard work going on in response to this and feel for the losses that are sure to be incurred. A lot of people having very differing responses from rental realty companies on this. Ours (Surf or Sound, who we've rented with for ~10 years) has been particularly bad compared to some of the others. Communication has been pretty poor - which may or may not be because of the periodic outages (other companies seem to be doing better at this that are in the same boat). And though we got the suggested travel insurance it looks like some of those companies are taking the line that this is a man-made event and outside of the standard hurricane coverage! So lots of people may be out thousands of dollars.

  • Steve Weaver Jul 28, 10:05 p.m.
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    I'm confused, it says the cable was erected on the bridge, but they are going to dig it up?

  • Steve Clark Jul 28, 4:05 p.m.
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    Might be time for the islanders to spring for a second cable. Hope the construction firm and its insurer have deep pockets. This could get expensive.

  • Rodney Hill Jul 28, 1:07 p.m.
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    Call before you dig!

  • Edward Anderson Jul 28, 1:03 p.m.
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    "It's like having a hurricane"
    No, this is much worse than having a hurricane; this was 100% avoidable human error. I hope the business owners will be able to recoup their losses from the insurance companies covering the employer of the doofus who cut the line.