Get­ting power back in N.C. proves tough

USA TODAY Weekend Extra - - NEWS - Emily Bo­hatch @emily­bo­hatch USA TO­DAY

Mak­ing re­pairs or even eval­u­at­ing the dam­age to a trans­mis­sion ca­ble caus­ing a power out­age on the North Carolina is­lands of Ocra­coke and Hatteras is prov­ing more dif­fi­cult than ini­tially an­tic­i­pated.

Though of­fi­cials orig­i­nally hoped to have a time­line for restor­ing power to the two pop­u­lar va­ca­tion des­ti­na­tions Fri­day, as of Sat­ur­day af­ter­noon crews had yet to ex­ca­vate the dam­aged area, North Carolina Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tives spokes­woman Kristie Aldridge said.

With­out a closer look at the trans­mis­sion ca­ble, which was dam­aged dur­ing a con­struc­tion project when a steel cas­ing was driven through it, the clos­est of­fi­cials can get to a time­line for power restora­tion is days or pos­si­bly weeks.

Crews dug all night hop­ing to reach the elec­tric line but kept en­coun­ter­ing is­sues as they reached the wa­ter ta­ble, Aldridge said.

Silt and wa­ter kept fill­ing the hole, so eval­u­at­ing the dam­age has been de­layed, Hyde County spokesman Donnie Shu­mate said.

That was just one of the litany of is­sues that have struck Ocra­coke and Hatteras since Thurs­day morn­ing’s ac­ci­dent.

When nine gen­er­a­tors ar­rived on Hatteras is­land Fri­day af­ter­noon, four were not able to con­nect to the power grid, ac­cord­ing to a Cape Hatteras Elec­tric Co­op­er­a­tive state­ment.

Ocra­coke ex­pe­ri­enced sim­i­lar is­sues when one of the two gen­er­a­tors that ar­rived on the re­mote is­land — it’s only reach­able by ferry or plane — did not have the equip­ment to con­nect to the power cir­cuit, Hyde County said in a state­ment. The is­land has been run­ning on power from two emer­gency gen­er­a­tors.

Thou­sands of va­ca­tion­ers were or­dered to evac­u­ate ear­lier this week.

As of 8 a.m. Sat­ur­day, 3,704 peo­ple had been evac­u­ated from Ocra­coke by the North Carolina Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Ferry Di­vi­sion, Shu­mate said.

On Sat­ur­day morn­ing, Hyde County of­fi­cials be­gan charg­ing non-res­i­dents still on the is­land with class 2 mis­de­meanors, which hold a max­i­mum penalty of 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, Shu­mate said.

In an ef­fort to as­sist evac­uees, Airbnb is of­fer­ing free tem­po­rary hous­ing un­til Mon­day.

“We en­cour­age those who are able to open their homes to those trav­el­ers in need of one night to a few days as the sit­u­a­tion evolves,” Re­gional Pub­lic Pol­icy Di­rec­tor for Airbnb Will Burns said in a state­ment.

About 9,000 homes were with­out power, Aldridge said.

The clos­est of­fi­cials can get to a time­line for power restora­tion is days or pos­si­bly weeks.

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