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Island blackout, evacuations continue in OBX

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BUXTON, Dare County - A widespread power outage and state of emergency continued for parts of the Outer Banks into early Friday morning, according to Hyde County Emergency Services official, Colby Sawyer.

Ocracoke and Hatteras Island officials reported thousands of customers were still without power Friday morning, in the heat of summer and in the midst of the area's popular tourist season. "It could take three to four days, maybe a week in a half to two weeks until power is restored," according to Sawyer.

Sawyer also confirmed that three generators were on their way to Ocracoke Island to power bare necessity electronics.

Hyde County officials said one generator was already in operation as of 3:30 a.m. Friday and two others were scheduled to leave from the Swan Quarter Ferry Terminal at about 1 p.m.

Tourists were warned to evacuate Ocracoke Island by 12 p.m. Friday.

So far, no emergency related incidents were reported.

Construction on the new Bonner Bridge caused the extensive power outage early Thursday.

PREVIOUS STORY

A major power outage along parts of the Outer Banks is currently being corrected after construction at the new Bonner Bridge caused the problem.

Power was out for Hatteras and Ocracoke Island. Tideland EMC and Cape Hatteras Electric have been working to restore power but officials said it will take several days after it was determined a construction company, PCL Construction, did work that damaged underground power cables while driving a steel casing for the new bridge.

CLICK HERE to read more on this from The Associated Press

Officials say about 9,000 customers are without power on the two islands - about 7,700 on Hatteras and another 1,300 on Ocracoke. The outage comes during peak tourist season, which runs from mid-June through Labor Day.

A mandatory evacuation of all tourists on Ocracoke Island was issued Thursday as a way to cut down on the number of people on the island in need of power. Click here to read the press release on the evacuation.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation's Ferry Division is helping to evacuate thousands of visitors from Ocracoke Island because of the power outage. In a statement, the department says priority boarding is suspended for all vehicles leaving Ocracoke. Tolls will be waived for ferry trips between Ocracoke and Cedar Island or Swan Quarter.

LINKS

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative website: http://www.chec.coop/

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CapeHatterasElectricCoop/

Tideland Electric Cooperative website: http://www.tidelandemc.com/

Tideland Electric Cooperative Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/TidelandElectric/

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Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency in a press release for Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands Thursday night.

"This declaration will allow us to move much needed resources through the state as quickly as possible to help restore the power to Ocracoke and Hatteras Islands," Governor Cooper said.

Earlier Thursday, Cooper received the news that Hyde County had ordered a mandatory evacuation order for visitors on Ocracoke Island effective 5 p.m.

Executed under the Emergency Management Act, the State of Emergency declaration enables the governor to mobilize the necessary resources to respond to this severe power outage.

The executive order waives restrictions on weight and the hours of service for fuel, utility and other truck drivers that may be working to deliver supplies and other resources needed to restore power in the affected areas. The waiver is in effect until rescinded.

The forecast calls for a good beach day, at least. Highs Thursday for both islands were expected to be in the mid-80s along with sunny skies.

Dare County has sent some information to its citizens about conserving power, water and staying cool during the repair process. Click each link to read them.

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1 p.m. Thursday UPDATE: Attempts to restore limited power to Ocracoke Island through the use of a generator have been unsuccessful so far.

Hyde County spokesperson Donnie Shumate said Tideland EMC tried a 10-minute run of its generator that was unsuccessful due to overwhelming demand. Shumate and Tideland EMC both say residents, businesses and visitors need to shut off all non-essential breakers, including air conditioning, water heaters and HVAC units.

The rotating blackout schedule cannot begin until the demand on the generator is lessened.

"Again, it is of critical importance for all Ocracoke residents and visitors to observe the conservation request issued by Tideland EMC," Shumate said. "If the current population of Ocracoke does not comply, the rotating schedule could be interrupted and attempts to alleviate the stress of the outage could be suspended.

"We are very hopeful that the outage will be addressed expeditiously but everyone needs to be prepared for an extended outage."

Officials say about 9,000 customers are without power on the two islands - about 7,700 on Hatteras and another 1,300 on Ocracoke.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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Noon Thursday UPDATE: A schedule for rolling blackouts is being worked up as work on repairing a transmission cable is planned and backup generators in Buxton are being used to provide limited power. Right now, Buxton and North Frisco have limited power, and power company authorities are asking residents and businesses not to use air conditioning to limit the drain on the generators' limited power source.

Additional portable generators have been requested, and are on their way to Hatteras Island.

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Original Story:

Power outages will be the order of the day for residents along parts of the Outer Banks in Hyde and Dare counties.

The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative said in a series of tweets Thursday morning that there was a fault on the transmission cable along the Bonner Bridge that caused outages starting around 3 a.m. from Ocracoke Island in the south to the northern end of Hatteras Island.

Nearly 8,000 customers are affected by the outage.

CHEC said backup generators would be able to supply limited amounts of power to the Buxton area only, and told residents in other areas to prepare for an extended outage. The electric company asked Buxton residents to minimize electric usage to only essential needs, including turning off air conditioning units, so as not to overburden the generators.

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