Gov. Cooper Presses for Faster Power Repairs, Pledges Help for Utilities Working to Restore Power to Hatteras, Ocracoke

RALEIGH

Governor Roy Cooper today pressed for faster action to restore power to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands. The islands lost power Thursday following damage by a contractor to a critical transmission line from the mainland and local officials have ordered all visitors to evacuate.

The electric cooperatives that serve Hatteras and Ocracoke are working to safely access the damaged underwater transmission line that supplies power to the islands without causing further damage. Until the damage assessment is complete, the utilities say they cannot determine how long it may take to repair or provide an estimate for permanent restoration of power. The utilities are coordinating their efforts closely with state and local officials.

In telephone calls with local officials from Dare and Hyde counties, Gov. Cooper today pledged that all available state resources are being offered to help efforts to manage the crisis and restore power quickly.

"I appreciate the hard work utility crews are doing to get the power back on and we must help them get the work done quickly," Gov. Cooper said. "State resources are available to help Hatteras and Ocracoke and we'll do all we can to get repairs moving."

NC Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Trogdon visited the location of the transmission line today to assess progress and determine if the utilities need additional resources that the state can provide. He will also observe evacuations from Dare and Hyde counties and provide Gov. Cooper with a first-hand account of the situation. 

In addition to DOT, officials with NC Emergency Management are working closely with local governments and the electric cooperatives to address the emergency situation caused by the power outage.

The power outage occurred after a transmission line was cut during construction on the Bonner Bridge. The line provides power to both Hatteras Island in Dare County and Ocracoke Island in Hyde County. If PCL Construction is found to have caused the power outage, then the contractor would likely be responsible for any costs and damages related to the repair as determined by the electric companies.

Portable generators transported to the islands by NC DOT ferries are providing power for public safety and water and sewer services as well as limited power to local residents and businesses. Officials with local utilities and emergency management continue to stress the need to conserve power for the most critical needs.

“This is an incredibly frustrating time for Hatteras and Ocracoke residents and visitors and repairs have to be completed as soon as possible," Gov. Cooper said. "Safety is our top concern, but getting power restored quickly is also key for local businesses and our tourism economy during the peak summer travel season."

Hyde County officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for visitors on Ocracoke Island effective 5 p.m. Thursday. Dare County officials ordered a mandatory evacuation for visitors on Hatteras Island south of Oregon Inlet effective 6 a.m. Saturday. 

As of 2 p.m. Saturday, NC DOT ferries had evacuated 3,782 people and 1,485 cars from both islands. The ferries will continue to run normal schedules throughout the day Saturday including twice daily fuel truck deliveries to keep generators running. Revised ferry schedules for Sunday and beyond will be announced by NC DOT. State Highway Patrol troopers are assisting local law enforcement to oversee reentry restrictions.

On Thursday, Governor Cooper declared a State of Emergency and waived weight and hours of service restrictions in response to the power outages. The swift declaration enabled the rapid movement of portable generators into the affected areas to help meet critical public safety power needs for police, fire and EMS.

The State of Emergency declaration also triggered the state's law against price gouging to prevent overcharging in Dare and Hyde counties during the crisis. Gov. Cooper encouraged people to who spot potential price gouging to report it to the Attorney General's Office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or 919-716-6000 or ncdoj.gov.

Travelers with plans to visit the Outer Banks can call 1-800-Visit-NC for updated information that may impact their plans. Vacationers who have rented properties on the islands are encouraged to contact their rental agency. More information about vacation renters' rights is available from the Attorney General's Office.

People can also protect their own health and safety following a power outage. Take these steps to stay safe and healthy:

  • If you lose electricity, keep refrigerators and freezers closed.
  • Food that has stayed cold in the refrigerator without electricity should be eaten while it is still fresh.
  • Throw away food that has been without refrigeration for longer than four hours.
  • Frozen food that stays frozen or that partially thaws while remaining cold can be eaten or refrozen when power returns.
  • Conserve water if your septic system floods.
  • Boil water for three to five minutes if your water system lost pressure or your private well flooded or lost electricity.
  • If your well flooded, it will need to be disinfected once flood waters recede.
  • Contact your local health department for assistance.