Tideland EMC says it has quadrupled its workforce to repair power outages. Wednesday and Thursday, a majority of Tideland repair crews and tree trimmers will be sent south of the Pamlico River to tackle what appear to be the hardest hit areas: Crystal Beach, Hickory Point, Oriental, Kennel's Beach and Fairfield Harbour.
Tideland Electric says it has now restored service to 42% of its electric system two days after Hurricane Irene assaulted the co-op's service area.
According to Tideland spokesperson Heidi Smith, "We have effectively quadrupled our existing workforce by mobilizing more than 160 tree trimmers and line crews. Today we received linemen from South River EMC in Dunn and Central EMC in Sanford. Tomorrow we will receive additional crews from Randolph EMC in Asheboro. We've also brought in contractors with specialized vehicles to help move equipment through waterlogged areas.
At the height of the storm, Tideland lost 99 percent of its electric system. Ocracoke Island and mainland Dare County fared far better than expected. Damage is most severe along shorelines closest to the mouth of the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers where Hurricane Irene momentarily stalled creating historic storm surge. In some Tideland served areas, homes were swept off their foundations.
What wasn't moved by water was battered by wind, and in Hyde County the co-op lost a transmission pole built to winds in excess of 130 miles per hour.
Ocracoke Island is back on generator power today after repairs were made to the unit which failed yesterday. Island residents could be dependent on the generator for quite a while as officials ponder the fate of Highway 12 on Hatteras Island which provides transmission service to Ocracoke.
Progress Energy made temporary repairs on Sunday so transmission service could be restored to Tideland's Pamlico County substation but then took a planned outage Monday night to make permanent repairs to the high voltage line. As a result, power was out for approximately one hour to areas previously restored in Pamlico and Craven counties and Beaufort County south of the Pamlico River.
Tideland EMC is a member-owned distribution cooperative serving 22,800 accounts in Hyde, Beaufort, Pamlico, Dare, Washington and Craven counties.