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For Many, Holiday Marked by Improvisation

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CARY — Thousands of people in North Carolina have had to find alternate ways of celebrating one of the biggest holidays of the year. A winter storm that rolled in from the west did not spare our area. Ice weighed down trees and power lines, and cut off electricity on the one morning of the year that needs light for the twinkling show.

Christmas morning without electricity meant some changes for the Beezley kids.

"I told the kids we wouldn't open presents until we had light -- either from the power coming on or natural sunlight. So they had to wait a little bit," said Michael Beezley.

First light is also when crews started their second day of restoring power to the hard hit Triangle. In all, CP&L has 1200 people in the field.

"I'd rather be at home but I have to work, I guess," said CP&L Herb Rouse.

This crew recruited from Goldsboro and Kinston returned to a Cary neighborhood where hundreds of people have been without power.

"It's more than the money. Yeah, they're going to get some overtime pay out of this, sure. But I think the fact that they've given up time from their families to come out and make sure other people are safe is a lot more," resident Bob Hartshorn said.

"It's good when people smile when you give them a good Christmas present," Larry King, another CP&L employee, said.

And this crew sympathizes with its customers.

"It was cold in that motel last night. We didn't have any lights there. We were out all night putting on everybody else's light. We got in a motel, we didn't have any heat ourselves so we know how everybody feels," Rouse said.

Literally street by street, they get the power back on to this chilly Cary subdivision.

"Yay! Woo! They're back! The lights came on. That was pretty neat, huh?" Beezley exulted.

Everyone hopes it will stay on for the rest of the day and for the next few days.

And maybe even a few days after that, as long as another ice storm doesn't hit.

Right now CP&L says about 28,800 customers are without power, most of them in Wake County.

It's working diligently to restore power as soon as possible. Duke Power says 1500 customers in Durham and 1,000 in Orange County also don't have electricity. N.C. Electric Cooperatives put its outage at 2500 as of 4 p.m. Friday. N.C. Power says 913 Roanoke Rapids customers and 82 in Ahoskie were without power late Friday afternoon.

And Wake Electric reports that all of its customers' freezers, ovens and computers are chilling, heating and linking just fine.