North Carolina governor calls alleged attack on substations ‘malicious’ as residents head for shelter after days without power




CNN

Without heat or power for medical equipment, some North Carolina residents are staying in a shelter as crews race to restore power after what the state’s governor called ‘malicious’ attacks on substations that plunged tens of thousands into darkness.

Power in Moore County is expected to be restored by late Wednesday, Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said Tuesday.

But for now, schools are closed until Thursday, many shops and restaurants have closed, homes are without heaters or fridges running, drivers cross intersections without traffic lights and a curfew outside. countywide from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. is still in place.

A Red Cross-run emergency shelter has been set up at the Moore County Sports Complex to help provide shelter, food, showers and other services to those affected.

Nakasha Jackson, who came to the shelter for hot food, said the breakdown had been difficult with her one-year-old.

“No light, no electricity, I really can’t do anything. The kid is afraid of the dark,” she told CNN.

Jackson said she sometimes had to travel up to an hour one way to buy food. “It’s ridiculous. It should never have been done,” Jackson said.

About 35,000 Moore County customers were left without power Tuesday afternoon, according to Duke Energy.

Residents who depend on medical equipment powered by electricity have also seen their lives turned upside down. A woman told CNN she came to the shelter because she had no power for her CPAP machine at night.

After two days of sleeping without her, she said she started feeling unwell and came to the shelter for help.

Others sought refuge fearing for their safety as they struggled to keep their homes warm. Amber Sampson and her fiancé came to the shelter because they “feel it’s safer”.

“It’s different. It’s a bit difficult to sleep, you know. But at the end of the day, I prefer to be in a place where it’s warm, where we have food, where we take care of us rather than being somewhere freezing cold,” Sampson said.

Along with having to stay at the shelter, Sampson has been unable to work since Sunday after his employer also lost power – a problem that could end up costing him hundreds of dollars.

The widespread and costly power outage in Moore County began Saturday night and dragged on for days after two substations were damaged by gunfire, initially knocking out power to more than 40,000 customers . Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said whoever fired multiple bullets at the substations “knew exactly what he was doing.”

Authorities have expressed anger over the alleged attacks, with Carol Haney, mayor of Southern Pines – a town of about 15,900 that has completely lost power – calling it a cruel and selfish act.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has expressed concern about businesses and residents of nursing homes.

“When you look at all the money that is lost by businesses here at Christmas, when you look at the threats to people in nursing homes who have lost power, hospitals who have to run generators and not being able to do certain types of operations at that point – all of those concerns run deep here, and we can’t let that happen,” the governor said.

“This was a malicious criminal attack on the entire community,” Cooper told CNN on Tuesday.

Duke Energy, which has about 47,000 customers in Moore County, has made “significant progress” since Saturday, Brooks said, and expects most customers to return to power Wednesday, just before midnight.

“It’s not going to happen all at once,” Brooks added. “You will see waves of customers arriving. A few thousand at a time.

Brooks said upfront that restoring power will not be an easy task, as the gunfire has damaged some equipment beyond repair.

    A view of the substation as work gets underway Monday in Carthage, North Carolina.

“It’s a very complicated process that involves equipment that has been put in place to be installed,” Brooks said at a press conference on Tuesday. “It’s there, but now we’re going through the process of calibrating and testing and preparing to get it in sync with the power grid, which is a very complex process.”

Meanwhile, 2,600 Randolph Electric customers in the northern part of Moore County have been affected by the attacks, according to Randolph Electric CEO Dale Lambert.

Randolph Electric is also working to restore power to affected customers.

Cooper told CNN the state needs to learn from the incident and have a serious conversation about protecting critical infrastructure.

“It was clear that (whoever is behind the shots) knew how to cause significant damage and they could do it in this substation, so we have to reassess the situation,” Cooper said.

Brooks, the spokesman for Duke Energy, said it was up to investigators to determine whether the person or persons responsible for the outage knew how to cause widespread damage to the system.

“They hit the spots that created the blackout, so take that for what it’s worth,” Brooks added.

No suspect or motive has been announced.

“There is deep concern in this community about who would do such a thing and why they would do it,” the governor said.

The Sheriff previously noted “no group has stepped in to acknowledge or accept that they were the ones who (did it).”

Investigators were trying to determine whether the two substations were fired simultaneously or one after the other, the sheriff said Monday.

It is also unclear whether there were cameras in the area when the substations were taken down. “It’s something that’s part of the investigation,” Cooper told CNN.

“If someone with a gun can do that much damage and power tens of thousands of people, then obviously we need to look at the different layers of infrastructure and hardening and make better decisions here,” Cooper said.


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