Thou­sands evac­u­ate North Carolina is­lands af­ter mas­sive power out­age

The Washington Post Sunday - - POLITICS & THE NATION - BY SEANNA ADCOX

A steady stream of tourists left a North Carolina is­land Satur­day un­der evac­u­a­tion or­ders prompted by a wide­spread power out­age, wip­ing out a sig­nif­i­cant chunk of the lu­cra­tive sum­mer months for lo­cal busi­nesses.

It could take days or weeks to re­pair an un­der­ground trans­mis­sion line dam­aged early Thurs­day by con­struc­tion crews work­ing on a new bridge be­tween is­lands in North Carolina’s Outer Banks. The con­struc­tion com­pany drove a steel cas­ing into the line, caus­ing black­outs on Ocra­coke and Hat­teras is­lands.

Cars lined up Fri­day to get on fer­ries, the only way off Ocra­coke Is­land, af­ter about 10,000 tourists were or­dered Thurs­day evening to evac­u­ate. A sec­ond or­der for vis­i­tors on Hat­teras Is­land, south of Ore­gon In­let, meant that up to 60,000 ad­di­tional peo­ple had to evac­u­ate start­ing Satur­day, pri­mar­ily north over the in­let bridge.

As of Satur­day af­ter­noon, fer­ries had evac­u­ated about 3,800 peo­ple and 1,500 cars from both is­lands, ac­cord­ing to Gov. Roy Cooper’s of­fice.

Cooper (D) said he called lo­cal of­fi­cials to pledge state help. “We’ll do all we can to get re­pairs mov­ing,” he said in a news re­lease.

Ex­ca­va­tion re­vealed Satur­day that one of three un­der­ground trans­mis­sion ca­bles that sup­ply the is­lands’ power is miss­ing a two-foot sec­tion. A timetable for re­pairs won’t be known un­til crews de­ter­mine whether ei­ther of the other ca­bles was dam­aged, ac­cord­ing to the Cape Hat­teras Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive.

Dare County spokes­woman Dorothy Hester had no es­ti­mate for how many peo­ple had yet to leave Hat­teras Is­land.

“We re­al­ize peo­ple are dis­ap­pointed. They brought a lot of stuff here. They’re pack­ing up and mov­ing out,” she said.

About 80 per­cent of the is­lands’ tourism stems from va­ca­tion rentals, and the or­der co­in­cides with the cus­tom­ary Satur­day turnover for weekly home rentals. The big ques­tion is when vis­i­tors can get to homes al­ready rented for up­com­ing weeks, said Lee Net­tles, di­rec­tor of the Outer Banks Vis­i­tors Bu­reau.

The or­der bar­ring in­bound tourists did not ap­ply to Hat­teras Is­land’s roughly 6,000 year-round res­i­dents or other prop­erty own­ers.

The is­land’s reg­u­lar sum­mer fish fry went on Satur­day evening be­cause or­ga­niz­ers or­dered the fish be­fore the evac­u­a­tion call.

The util­ity is sup­ply­ing tem­po­rary power to res­i­dents, busi­nesses and emer­gency ser­vices with diesel and por­ta­ble gen­er­a­tors.

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