A power outage in Central North Carolina over the weekend has disrupted everyday life, prompting officials to open at least one shelter and impose a nighttime curfew, possibly during the week, as authorities investigate what left an entire province in the dark.
The outage in Moore County, about 90 miles east of Charlotte, has caught the attention of state officials, including Governor Roy Cooper, who said at a news conference Monday that the attack was intentional and harmed the entire community.
Here’s what we know so far.
When did the power outages start and what caused them?
Power went out just after 7 p.m. Saturday night. Two electrical substations were damaged by gunfire in what Senator Tom McInnis called a “terrible act” that appeared to be “deliberate, deliberate and malicious.”
There were no immediate details about a possible motive or suspect; the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation were investigating the matter. It was also unclear whether the vandalism was related to opposition to a drag show in the area that had faced backlash.
“Violence and sabotage will not be tolerated regardless of motive,” said Governor Cooper.
“Moore County is very strong,” said county sheriff Ronnie Fields. “And I can promise you to the perpetrators out there, we’ll find you.”
The damage is in the millions, he says.
Tens of thousands of people are without power.
Customers were slowly getting their power back, with about 7,000 connections restored Sunday night, Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said at a news conference Monday. Repair technicians hoped to restore power to a few thousand more by the end of Monday, he said.
However, the majority of the remaining approximately 38,000 customers would be without power until repairs are fully completed, Mr Brooks said.
On Sunday, the number of customers without power was about 45,000.
When will there be electricity again?
It can take days. Officials said on Monday the outage could last into Thursday for many customers, raising concerns that the combination of chilly evening temperatures and no heat could spell disaster for some residents.
Moore County residents have experienced power outages before, especially during blizzards and extreme weather. The parts of the substations that were damaged must be completely replaced, unlike when pieces can be repaired in place after weather conditions interrupt power.
A state of emergency was declared.
A state of emergency was declared for the entire country on Sunday afternoon alongside a curfew that was expected to last as long as the declaration was in effect. Citizens were also encouraged to conserve fuel during this time.
A shelter has opened at the Moore County Sports Complex, which can accommodate about 250 residents, officials said. It stays open until it is no longer needed. Schools were also closed on Mondays and Monday evening it will be decided if they will open again on Tuesday.
April Rubin reporting contributed.