State of Emergency: Power outage causes spike in break-ins, closed schools and curfew in Moore County
The power outage in Moore County has made keeping warm and getting through daily life more difficult for thousands of people.Posted — Updated
Schools are closed Monday and officials are urging residents to stay off the roads.
Southern Pines dealt with multiple breaking and entering incidents overnight, including a break-in at the Dollar General and an attempted break-in at a gun store, according to Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields.
"It's scary. We're facing things today that I'd never in my lifetime thought we'd be facing," said Fields. "The unrest across our nation. And when things like this start happening, as a law enforcement officer you've sworn an oath to protect the citizens here. It's very scary. I don't sleep very good at night, and I won't until this individual is put in custody and held accountable."
Crews worked at a power facility in Moore County Sunday; A deputy was at the entrance, keeping an eye over who was let in.
Chris Thompson said it's tough keeping his family warm in his home in Carthage.
“It is cold,” said Thompson. “We have a six-month-old baby in the house. We are trying to get heat for her now. I don’t know.”
Thompson said he knows he is not alone – and worries about his neighbors.
“People need power in their lives, especially for medical needs," said Thompson. "I don’t know, it has really made me mad.”
In Moore County, traffic lights are dark at intersections, and stores and restaurants were forced to close, making it difficult to find basics, like food and fuel.
Doors were even closed at some churches on Sunday after Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said targeted gunfire damaged equipment that could take several days to replace.
“All of a sudden, the power went out,” one couple said. “It is kind of a scary time, I know there is a lot of speculation as to what may or may not have happened.”
A few stores with generators were able to open their doors.
Fields said the person or people responsible knew what they were doing. He was emotional about the far-reaching impacts this has on residents.
"We're just getting over COVID and now this," said Fields. "It's going to hurt the restaurants and the businesses and stuff."
A shelter has been opened at the Moore County Sports Complex. Officials said if you need transportation you should call the Emergency Operations Center.
The Red Cross is also assisting, they have room for 250 occupants.
Harris Teeter distributed free bags of ice on Sunday to community members affected by the power outage in Moore County.
Residents could get up to two 10-pound bags of ice at the following locations:
- 12:30 p.m. -- PineCroft Harris Teeter, 305 Ivey Ln. in Pinehurst
- 1:30 p.m. -- Mill Creek Village Harris Teeter, 400 Mill Creek Rd. in Carthage
- 2:30 p.m. -- Center Park Plaza Harris Teeter, 11109 US 15-501 Hwy. in Aberdeen
The Southern Pines Police Department also opened its community room to the public to charge their electronic devices. The police department is located at 450 W. Pennsylvania Ave.
Despite not having power themselves, Jennifer Campuzano and her family brought meals over to the shelter.
"It's an unfortunate event," said Campuzano. "We wanted to bring some food for the guys that probably need it most."
Her family is trying to make the best of the situation.
"Our gas logs work just fine, so we'll probably be camping out in the living room," she said.
"We faced something last night in Moore County we've never faced before," said Fields at a press conference Sunday.
Fields said that crews at the substations found "extensive damage" when inspecting the equipment; He also said that there was evidence that firearms had been used to disable the equipment.
Fields said Moore County sheriff’s deputies and various other law enforcement agencies provided additional site security Saturday as utility crews worked.
North Carolina Emergency Management, state and local law enforcement officials are working in a coordinated response with Duke Energy to restore power as quickly as possible. State and federal law enforcement are on the ground and have begun investigating in coordination with local law enforcement.
“I appreciate the swift response from local and state emergency responders in Moore County to protect public safety and work with Duke Energy to restore power,” said Gov. Roy Cooper. “An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice. Moore County has strong, vibrant communities and the state will continue to provide transportation and public safety assistance.”
State resources assisting in the response include:
- North Carolina Department of Transportation
- Alcohol Law Enforcement
- North Carolina State Highway Patrol
- State Bureau of Investigation
Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks said the work to restore power could take until Thursday, Dec. 8.
"Unlike perhaps a storm where you can go in and reroute power somewhere else, that was not an option in this case," said Brooks. "So repair has to be completed."
With SBI and the FBI now involved in the investigation, Fields has a message for those behind the damage.
"I can promise you, to the perpetrators out there," said Fields. "We will find you."
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