OBX OUTAGE: Lawsuit filed against construction company behind power outage

DARE COUNTY (WITN) - A North Carolina law firm has announced that a class action lawsuit has been filed against a construction company, arguing it was negligent when crews accidentally severed the transmission line providing power to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

The Wallace and Graham law firm in Salisbury, NC, says they are working with other attorneys in North and South Carolina for the suit filed Monday in Dare County Superior Court against PCL Civil Constructors, Inc.

They are representing individuals and businesses affected by the massive power outage that began July 27. Two of those suing are Briggs McEwan, who owns a Rodanthe pizza shop and home rental business, and Tami Lynette Gray, of Frisco, who runs a charter boating business.

The lawsuit says in order for PCL to have won the NC DOT contract bid to complete the Bonner Bridge replacement project, the company promised to save $60 million or more by working under an accelerated pace. The argument is that by trying to speed up the project, there was "inadequate work to ensure that the power lines which are the lifeblood to these coastal communities would be protected."

The suit names PCL Civil Constructors's Raleigh office and two PCL affiliates.

They are asking for monetary damages and other relief for the plaintiffs.

"For people in the Hatteras and Ocracoke areas, this outage is causing significant harm. We have moved quickly to seek to make our clients' voices heard in this ongoing crisis and obtain judicial relief," states Mona Lisa Wallace of Wallace and Graham, P.A.


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Crews continue to make progress in working to restore full power to the Outer Banks, five days after a construction company accidentally severed a transmission line to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative says they are not only working to repair the underground transmission line, but they are simultaneously working to build a new overhead transmission line that would run along Bonner Bridge.

They say crews have already set seven of the required 10 transmission poles along the bridge.

As for the underground transmission cable, two of the three lines have been uncovered. CHEC says have completed the splice on the first line.

They also say they are working to expand temporary generators power on Hatteras Island to accommodate a staged reentry of visitors.


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Governor Roy Cooper says it is critical that power gets restored to the Outer Banks.

Cooper is visiting the site of where a construction crew damaged an underground power cable that provides electricity to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

State officials estimate around 45,000 tourists have been evacuated from the two islands.

The company cut the lines during construction of the new Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.

"I hope there is a way for people to get reimbursed," replied the governor when asked about losses because of the outage. "Clearly this was the company's fault."

Cooper also said he would be speaking with the attorney general about reports that some rental companies are not refunding customers money because the outage was not caused by a natural disaster.

State officials said they're also watching Tropical Storm Emily and any possible impacts it may have on restoring power.


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Additional testing shows only two of the three cables feeding electricity to two crippled islands on the Outer Banks were actually damaged.

Tideland Electric, which supplies power to Ocracoke Island says crews have also completed splicing work on the first damaged cable. The utility says excavation work continues to reach the second cable so it too can be fixed.

Gov. Roy Cooper will visit the Bonner Bridge later today where the transmission cables were damaged, prompting a mandatory evacuation of tourists from both islands.

The governor will visit the bridge that spans the Oregon Inlet around 12:30 p.m. After that, Governor Cooper plans to visit local businesses that were impacted by the power outage.

Electric cooperatives are using generators on the two islands after PCL Construction accidentally drove a steel casing into the underground transmission cable on Thursday, severing one line and damaging another.

Officials say crews have started working on two different solutions to help restore power, which could take one to two weeks.

Cape Hatteras Electric says it is working to expand temporary generators power on Hatteras to accommodate a staged reentry of visitors.


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Crews have started working on two different solutions to help restore power to Hatteras and Ocracoke Island, estimating repairs to the damaged transmission lines will take one to two weeks, officials said.

As part of one solution, crews have continued to excavate the damaged cables and plan to splice them back together, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

Crews are also currently working to build a new overhead transmission line that would run along the Bonner Bridge to meet an existing overhead transmission line, the Sheriff's Office said.

The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative says they will continue to work on both solutions until they can determine which one will be the most practical. Repair times are estimated to take about one to two weeks, CHEC said.

Visitors will be allowed to return to the islands once either of these solutions are complete, or if the islands are able to get more generator power, officials said.

A mandatory evacuation order that went into effect 6 a.m. Saturday still remains in effect for both Ocracoke and Hatteras Island.

Both Hatteras and Ocracoke Island lost power early Thursday morning when construction crews working on the Bonner Bridge hit underground cables.

Crews uncovered one severed transmission line that was missing a two-foot section of cable Saturday, the CHEC said. After testing the other buried cables overnight, crews discovered those two cables are also damaged, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

The islands have been using portable generators to provide residents with power. The residents on the islands should expect occasional maintenance outages but as long as everyone follows strict conservation habits officials say the generators should continue to run successfully, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

Only residents, seasonal residents, non-resident property owners, vendors and emergency personnel with a valid re-entry pass or documented proof of residency or employment will be allowed on Ocracoke Island, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

Similarly, only essential personnel, permanent residents, property owners and people who work on the island are allowed to back onto Hatteras Island as long as they have a re-entry pass or the appropriate documentation, Dare County Emergency Management said.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday NC DOT Ferry Division reported that they had evacuated 3,783 people and 1,485 cars from Ocracoke Island.

The NC DOT Ferry Division will be adopting an alternate schedule on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route starting Sunday. The Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke routes will remain on their regular schedules.

A majority of visitors complied with the evacuation order and now traffic at the ferry terminals is extremely light, Hyde County Emergency officials said.

The Hatteras-Ocracoke route will resume its regular summer schedule once the evacuation order is lifted, NC DOT officials said.

If you have any questions about ferry reservations, cancellations, or refunds, you can contact the NC DOT Ferry Division at 252-928-5311.


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Crews discover all three cables providing power to Hatteras and Ocracoke Island are damaged after construction crews working on the Bonner Bridge hit the transmission lines and cut power to the islands Thursday morning, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative said.

Crews currently do not have a timeline for the repairs, officials said.

Crews uncovered one severed transmission line Saturday that is missing a 2-foot section of cable. After testing the two other buried cables overnight, crews discovered those two cables are damaged as well, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

CHEC has called in additional resources to help further assess the situation. Right now there is no set timeline as to when or how the repairs will be made, the Sheriff's Office said.

The islands have been using portable generators to provide residents with power. The residents on the islands should expect occasional maintenance outages but as long as everyone follows strict conservation habits officials say the generators should continue to run successfully, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

Officials from Dare County Emergency Management say their next priority will be to expand the power of those generators to be able to allow visitors to return to the island as soon as possible.

A mandatory evacuation order that went into effect 6 a.m. Saturday and remains in effect for both Ocracoke and Hatteras Island.

Only residents, seasonal residents, non-resident property owners, vendors and emergency personnel with a valid re-entry pass or documented proof of residency or employment will be allowed on Ocracoke Island, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

Similarly, only essential personnel, permanent residents, property owners and people who work on the island are allowed to back onto Hatteras Island as long as they have a re-entry pass or the appropriate documentation, Dare County Emergency Management said.

As of 4 p.m. Saturday NC DOT Ferry Division reported that they had evacuated 3,783 people and 1,485 cars from Ocracoke Island.

The NC DOT Ferry Division will be adopting an alternate schedule on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route starting Sunday. The Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke routes will remain on their regular schedules.

A majority of visitors complied with the evacuation order and now traffic at the ferry terminals is extremely light, Hyde County Emergency officials said.

The Hatteras-Ocracoke route will resume its regular summer schedule once the evacuation order is lifted, NC DOT officials said.

If you have any questions about ferry reservations, cancellations, or refunds, you can contact the NC DOT Ferry Division at 252-928-5311.


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Crews uncover one severed cable from the transmission line that cut power to both Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands Thursday morning, officials said.

The damaged transmission line crews uncovered Saturday is missing a two foot section of cable, Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative officials said. Crews are still working to uncover two other cables to make sure they are not also damaged. CHEC says they will be able to to give a better time frame for the repair once they confirm only one of the three cables has been damaged.

Both the county and the state have declared states of emergency for Ocracoke and Hatteras Island. A mandatory evacuation order for the islands was issued at 6 a.m. Saturday.

Only residents, seasonal residents, non-resident property owners, vendors and emergency personnel with a valid re-entry pass or documented proof of residency or employment will be allowed on Ocracoke Island, the Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

Hyde County Sheriff's Office is now issuing citations for anyone not immediately evacuating the island. Deputies will charge people with a Class 2 misdemeanor if they do not follow the mandatory evacuation, Hyde County Sheriff's Office said.

Parts of the Outer Banks are also facing gas shortages, officials said. People leaving Ocracoke and heading to Hatteras are being told to wait to get gas until they are north of the Oregon Inlet.

Ocracoke Island has three mobile generators on the island that have been giving residents power, Hyde County Sherriff's Office said. The residents on the island should expect occasional maintenance outages but as long as everyone follows strict conservation habits officials say the generators should continue to run successfully.

"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," Governor Roy Cooper said. "State resources are available to help Hatteras and Ocracoke and we'll do all we can to get repairs moving."

As of 4 p.m. NC DOT Ferry Division reported that they had evacuated 3,783 people and 1,485 cars from Ocracoke Island.

The NC DOT Ferry Division will be adopting an alternate schedule on the Hatteras-Ocracoke route starting Sunday. The Swan Quarter-Ocracoke and Cedar Island-Ocracoke routes will remain on their regular schedules.

A majority of visitors complied with the evacuation order and now traffic at the ferry terminals is extremely light, Hyde County Emergency officials said.

The Hatteras-Ocracoke route will resume its regular summer schedule once the evacuation order is lifted, NC DOT officials said.

If you have any questions about ferry reservations, cancellations, or refunds, you can contact the NC DOT Ferry Division at 252-928-5311.


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A mandatory evacuation order has been issued for all visitors of Hatteras Island, while transmission crews hope to have a damage and repair assessment by Saturday afternoon.

Dare County says the evacuation order is effective 6 a.m. Saturday and includes the villages of Rodanthe, Waves, Salvo, Avon, Buxton, Frisco and Hatteras, but it does not include any areas north of Oregon Inlet. All areas north of Oregon Inlet remain open with no restrictions in place.

The county says they issued the order "due to life safety issues" from the massive power outage and the growing uncertainty of when power will be fully restored.

The Cape Hatteras National Seashore says Cape Point Campground, Frisco Campground, and Ocracoke Campground will close at noon on Saturday and remain closed until the county's evacuation orders are lifted.

Just as for Ocracoke Island's evacuation order, only residents, non-resident property owners, essential personnel, and non-resident employees of non-critical businesses will be allowed entry with proper reentry credentials.

As of 4 p.m., the NC DOT Ferry Division says they evacuated 3,406 people and transported 1,316 cars from Ocracoke Island.

"We woke up the next morning and everything was dead," says Zach Futrell, who evacuated off of Ocracoke Island. "We slept in the parking lot last night in the camper waiting for, so we could get on this 7:00 ferry this morning."

An estimated 10,000 visitors were on Ocracoke when the power failed and Hyde County told all visitors to leave.

In response to the power outage, Airbnb is working with area hosts to provide free temporary housing accommodations to affected travelers, local residents, emergency relief workers and volunteers through its Disaster Response Program.

Hyde County says repair crews are getting closer to reaching the transmission line. A press release says crews began digging around 1 p.m. Friday and will work through the night.

Engineers are hoping to know what was damaged and what it will take to repair the line by Saturday afternoon.

In the meantime, Tideland EMC says all three mobile emergency generators are on Ocracoke Island, however, only one is running at this time. It is only powering a small area around the lighthouse, just for fans and refrigeration.

Tideland says they hope to have a second generator operational by the end of Friday. Until that happens, Tideland will operate the remaining two circuits that are currently down on a rotating schedule of four hours.

The third generator is missing the equipment to connect it, so officials are hoping to get the equipment and have it running by Saturday afternoon.

Even when the other two generators are up and running, county officials say only fans and refrigerators may use electricity.

The state of emergency issued for Hatteras Island issued earlier Friday says "all Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative (CHEC) customers must remove air conditioning systems and hot tub heaters from the power grid by turning off system circuit breakers." It also restricts water usage, prohibiting watering lawns or doing things like filling pools or hot tubs.

Thursday, an auxiliary power plant was supplying limited power to the southern part of Hatteras Island and two generators were bringing limited power to the northern parts of the island. Friday, seven more generators were brought in to fill in the gaps in areas that were still in a complete blackout.

Hyde County is reminding visitors that if they do not evacuate Ocracoke Island, they could face a class 2 misdemeanor charge.

Ocracoke locals, like Charles O'Neal, are working to get back on the island to salvage what they can.

"I'm trying to get home to hook up a generator to my house so I can get the power to my freezer and my refrigerator so I don't lose all of my groceries," he says.

A bigger concern for many who live on the island is their livelihood, which depends on peak tourist season.

"This is a big time of the year for everybody, this is pretty busy over there and a lot of people are going to lose out a lot of income because of everybody having to evacuate," O'Neal says.

Officials say complying with an evacuation order may qualify for a travel insurance claim and recommend visitors contact their travel insurance company.

If you have any questions about ferry reservations, cancellations, or refunds, please contact the NC DOT Ferry Division at 252-928-5311.


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Hyde County says those visitors not evacuating Ocracoke Island could be charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Electricity to Ocracoke and Hatteras Island was crippled early Thursday morning by a contractor working on the new Bonner Bridge over the Oregon Inlet.

A ferry arriving this morning at Swan Quarter was full of vacationers leaving Ocracoke. On the return trip, a half dozen vehicles were headed to the island, some carrying generators for their homes.

The D.O.T. says as of Friday afternoon, 2300 people and 890 vehicles have left the island.

The evacuation order does not apply to property owners, seasonal residents, permanent residents or those who work on the island.

For those remaining on Ocracoke, a public cooling and charging station has opened at the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department. Medical personnel are also there to assist residents, if needed.

There is still no definite timetable on when power to Hatteras and Ocracoke islands will be restored.

Crews are still working to determine how severe the damage was when a construction crew working on new Bonner Bridge cut the power line to the islands Thursday morning. It could take several days or several weeks to repair.

Hyde County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for Ocracoke Island.

Officials hope all visitors will be off the island by noon. A Hyde County spokesman says they are working with reality companies and hotel owners to insure those left on the island after the deadline are in the process of evacuating.

Tideland Electric is bringing their own generators onto Ocracoke, with the first arriving Thursday night. Two more larger generators will be on an afternoon ferry and they hope to have those up and running by tonight.

The utility says people need to only have refrigerators and fans hooked up, turning off all other breakers in the home.

Cape Hatteras Electric, which serves Hatteras Island, says seven additional generators will arrive on that island today. They too urge everyone to conserve power and not to use air conditioners.

Meanwhile, the Cape Hatteras National Seashore says a majority of their facilities on the Outer Banks remain open. The Frisco Campground and the Ocracoke Campground are both closed due to the power outage and evacuation order.


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Governor Roy Cooper signed a State of Emergency declaration Thursday evening in response to the power outage on Hatteras Island in Dare County and Ocracoke Island in Hyde County.

The order allows the governor to better assist the crisis and provide resources to the affected areas.

Cooper is also waiving 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.

Hyde County Emergency Services on its Facebook page says that the NCDOT Ferry Division will continue the Ocracoke-Hatteras ferry operations through the night as long as a demand exists.

Tideland posted to Twitter around 11:30 p.m. Thursday night that one of the three mobile generators has arrived on Ocracoke Island. The other two are expected to arrive Friday.

Cape Hatteras Electric says seven more generators will be arriving beginning Friday, but says everyone will still need to conserve their electric usage.

They are currently running two portable generators on three hour cycles. Here is what they have announced so far:
11 p.m. - 2 a.m. is Waves and Avon South.
2 a.m. - 5 a.m. is Mirlo Beach and Avon Village
8 a.m. - 11 a.m. is Salvo and Avon South.


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The N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division announced they will be assisting in visitor evacuations on Ocracoke Island due to a power outage that could last days to weeks.

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, only residents, property owners, emergency personnel, vendors and critical infrastructure providers with Ocracoke re-entry documentation are allowed on ferries inbound to Ocracoke.

The division also says priority boarding is suspended for all vessels leaving Ocracoke, and tolls will be waived for ferries on trips between Ocracoke and Cedar Island or Swan Quarter.

Hyde County officials say the soonest limited electrical service will resume is Friday after three generators are brought onto the island. However, the success of the generator power depends on the the residents and visitors limiting their electrical use.

Officials say there is no hard timetable for visitors to leave, but they are asking visitors to be off the island by noon Friday.

Ferries are currently running on their normal schedules. Dare County officials are requesting that visitors that are evacuating via the Hatteras Ferry please try and get north of Oregon Inlet before attempting to get gas or find lodging.

Hyde County officials say at 4:30 a.m., power went out to Ocracoke and Hatteras islands after PCL Construction, the contractors building the new Bonner Bridge, drove a piling through the underground cable between the southern end of Bonner Bridge and the first riser pole on Hatteras Island.

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative requested specialized transmission repair crews to assess the damage and they are expected to arrive Thursday night.

Depending on what the crews find and what kind of repairs and specialized materials are required, it could take days or weeks to get power fully restored.

Hyde County officials say after the power outage began, Tideland Electric tried to operate Ocracoke's generator, but after running for 10 minutes, the generator failed and is now inoperable.

Tideland then requested the three mobile generators be brought to the island, which will run the island's three circuits to avoid rotating service schedules.

Officials are asking those staying on the island to limit electrical use to fans and refrigerators and to avoid using air conditioning systems until full power is restored.

The ferry division says these evacuation procedures will remain in effect for all Ocracoke ferries until Hyde County emergency officials lift the order.


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Hyde County has ordered a mandatory evacuation for visitors on Ocracoke Island because of the power failure.

County public information officer Donnie Shumate says there are some 10,000 visitors on the island right now. He said there is no hard timetable for visitors to leave, but they should start preparing to depart.

Shumate says Tideland Electric now says it will be at least the end of the weekend before power to the island is restored and that portable generators being brought in will not be able to power the entire island.

There is only one more ferry to Cedar Island this evening, while ferries continue to operate to Hatteras Island. Shumate says the county is not aware of extra ferries being added to the state schedule because of the evacuation order.

Dare County officials are requesting that visitors that are evacuating via the Hatteras Ferry please try and get north of Oregon Inlet before attempting to get gas or find lodging.

Power was cut to both Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island around 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

Cape Hatteras Electric pinpointed the problem to a transmission line that runs underneath of the Bonner Bridge.

PCL Construction, the company that is building the new bridge, says they drove a steel casing into the underground transmission cable that runs between the south end of the existing bridge and an overhead rise pole.

The utility says assuming it has all the necessary materials on hand, repairs could take several days. If not, and they have to go out of the area to get materials, the outage could take weeks, according to Cape Hatteras Electric.

Generators are supplying some power to Buxton, Frisco and part of Hatteras Village, and CHEC is bringing three additional generators in tonight. Once all the generators are in place, rolling blackouts will be initiated on Hatteras Island.


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A major power outage on the Outer Banks will take several days to fix and was caused by construction on the new Bonner Bridge.

Power was cut to both Hatteras Island and Ocracoke Island around 4:30 a.m. Thursday.

Cape Hatteras Electric pinpointed the problem to a transmission line that runs underneath of the Bonner Bridge.

PCL Construction, the company that is building the new bridge, says they drove a steel casing into the underground transmission cable that runs between the south end of the existing bridge and an overhead rise pole.

The utility says assuming it has all the necessary materials on hand, repairs could take several days. If not, and they have to go out of the area to get materials, the outage could take weeks, according to Cape Hatteras Electric.

Generators are supplying some power to Buxton, Frisco and part of Hatteras Village, and CHEC is bringing three additional generators in tonight. Once all the generators are in place, rolling blackouts will be initiated on Hatteras Island.

Tideland Electric tried to set up generator power on Ocracoke Island as well. But the utility says initial attempts to get that working failed because there was too much demand on the electric grid.

That initial attempt damaged the generator, so Tideland is now bringing three mobile generators onto the island. Those should be online sometime on Friday.

People on Ocracoke are being told to unplug everything except refrigerators and fans. Also turn off hot water tanks, hot tubs, and air conditioners so the generator will work.


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Tideland Electric says initial attempts to fire up a generator on Ocracoke Island failed because there's too much draw on the electric grid.

A major power outage has blacked out both Hatteras and Ocracoke islands.

Tideland says power went out around 4:30 a.m.

Residents of both islands should be prepared for an extended outage as there is a problem with the transmission line attached to the Bonner Bridge.

Tideland says they are working on bringing a generator online for Ocracoke, but the first attempt failed.

Residents and visitors are urged to turn off all breakers, except for those powering refrigerators and fans.

Tideland says the generator will cycle power on and off in parts of the island for a few hours at a time. Their goal is to help people keep food from spoiling.

Cape Hatteras Electric has brought generators online for Buxton and Frisco. Everyone is being urged to turn off air conditioners and minimize other electric use.

The utility will bring additional portable generators to Hatteras Island as soon as possible.

Dare County says because of the power outage, people on the island should also conserve water.

There is no time frame on when regular power will be restored.

Cape Hatteras Electric says 7700 of its customers are without power, while Tideland says 1326 are out on Ocracoke.

Heidi Smith with Tideland says since the transmission line runs underneath the bridge, a specialized crew was called in to check the damage. She said this is not related to construction work going on for the new bridge.