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Work on repairing damaged electric cables continues; Hyde County to hold community gathering today

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POWER OUTAGE INFORMATION FROM HYDE COUNTY July 31, 2017

Further testing of the damaged power cables at the Bonner Bridge indicates that only two of the three underground transmission cables sustained damage in the Thursday morning accident which cut the main power to all of Hatteras and Ocracoke islands, Hyde County announced today.

The underground cables owned by Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative (CHEC) were damaged when PCL Construction, the contractors building the new Bonner Bridge, accidentally drove a steel piling through it.  Earlier reports had said all three cables had been damaged.

In a press release issued this afternoon by Donnie Shumate, Hyde County public information officer, CHEC is pursuing two simultaneous solutions to restore main-line transmission service, but the timeline for a complete repair ranges from one to two weeks.

Crews erected seven of the 10 new transmission poles necessary to establish an alternative overhead transmission line. Photo courtesy of CHEC

According to information on the Tideland EMC website, excavation and dewatering continue at the damage site. Two of the three cables have been uncovered. The first was severed and has been spliced back together. Tests on the second cable indicate that it was not compromised.

Crews are close to reaching the third cable, but because of the complex dewatering process, conditions have been challenging. PCL Construction will continue to excavate the trench through tonight.

Early Monday morning, workers began efforts on the second solution, which requires building a new overhead transmission line that will run from the south end of the Bonner Bridge to meet CHEC’s existing overhead transmission line. 

Restoring permanent transmission service as quickly and safely as possible is CHEC’s top priority and workers are aggressively pursuing both solutions to determine which will be completed first.

To read Tideland’s information and to view photos of the excavation and repair work, click here.

Today at the Community Center, Hyde County officials will be available to discuss and answer questions on the economic impact of the power outage. 

 The Health Dept. will distribute fresh produce and offer assistance and information on  WIC, a nutrition program for women, infants, and children . The Salvation Army will distribute meals. The Dept. of Social Services will offer information and assistance on available social services benefits; the Economic and Planning office will offer information on unemployment benefits, collect information from businesses on economic loss and take information on any unmet needs.  Emergency Services, and the county manager’s office also will be on hand. A Spanish interpreter will be available. 

After the outreach session, the community is invited to a free dinner starting at 5 p.m. in the Pony Island Motel parking lot. Picnic tables will be set up across the street at the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Dept.

The menu includes BBQ, hamburgers, coleslaw, chips, fruit, water and tea all graciously donated by friends of Hyde County. 

As for power on Ocracoke, the three emergency mobile generators that Tideland EMC installed on the island continue to provide power for the residents. 

The permanent 3-megawatt generator on the island was damaged at the onset of the power outage and was unusable prompting the acquisition of three emergency mobile generators, which arrived Thursday and Friday.

Emergency mobile generators brought in by  Tideland EMC. Photo: P. Vankevich

North Carolina EMC which owns the permanent generator, has begun repairs.

Tideland, which provides electricity to the island and installed the temporary generators, said an occasional maintenance outage is to be expected from time to time but their goal is to keep them brief.  While residents may use air conditioning and water heating, depending on daily outdoor temperatures, generator reliability and utility load,  these loads may be restricted 

The success of operating the island on generator power depends entirely on everyone heeding their conservation calls when issued.   Residents are asked to adhere to any instructions sent in Tideland’s text message alerts. 

“We would like to thank Tideland EMC and their employees for their continued support during this crisis,” Shumate said.

The mandatory evacuation of visitors from Ocracoke Island will remain in effect until an adequate power supply can be provided to support them. 

The U.S. Coast Guard is actively patrolling Silver Lake Harbor and the National Park Service is monitoring their docks to ensure no unauthorized reentry occurs.  Only individuals who are Ocracoke residents, seasonal residents, non-resident property owners, vendors, and emergency personnel who display a valid re-entry pass, or who possess some form of documentation proving residency and/or employment, will be allowed access to the island. Any seasonally employed residents that are having issues producing documentation to gain access to the island should call 252-926-4374 for assistance.

All renters should be aware that, pursuant to Article 6 of Chapter 42A-36 of the North Carolina General Statues, travel insurance claims may be made when a claimant is complying with a mandatory evacuation. Renters are urged to contact their insurance companies about claims.

As for the ferries, the Ferry Division is operating on their winter schedule for all routes to and from Ocracoke. They will resume operating on the normal summer schedule once the evacuation order is lifted. 

All tolls have been waived for routes between Ocracoke, Swan Quarter and Cedar Island. 

Updated schedule can be found here. For questions about ferry reservations, cancellations, or refunds, contact the Ferry Division at 252-928-5311.

Hyde County also thanks the NC DOT Ferry Division and their employees for their assistance in the evacuation of the island and their continued support in getting much-needed supplies to the citizens of Ocracoke.

 

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    • From Hyde County: The U.S. Coast Guard is actively patrolling Silver Lake Harbor and the National Park Service is monitoring their docks to ensure no unauthorized reentry occurs.  Only individuals who are Ocracoke residents, seasonal residents, non-resident property owners, vendors, and emergency personnel who display a valid re-entry pass, or who possess some form of documentation proving residency and/or employment, will be allowed access to the island

  1. The spirit of Ocracoke once again shines through with people on the island sharing and finding good in a bad situation. The Pony Island, Darlene Styron at Sweet Tooth/Fig Tree Bakery, as well as other venues, giving away food, and Marcy and Lou with the free Open Mic/Free broadcast tonight on concertwindow are just a few of the many ways Ocracoke folks help each other. A good place to live when a bad situation occurs, though hopefully the situation will be resolved for you soon. The rest of us are anxiously waiting to visit and share the beauty of Ocracoke with you.