Watch CBS News

Power will be restored sooner than expected as investigation continues into deliberate North Carolina outage, officials say

Race to save food amid North Carolina power outage
Race to save food amid North Carolina power outage 02:12

Power in Moore County, North Carolina, where a "deliberate" attack on two area substations left roughly 45,000 people in the dark, is expected to be fully restored by late Wednesday night, officials said Wednesday. Initial estimates placed the timing of full restoration as late as Thursday, five days after the outages began.

The Moore County outage was first reported Saturday evening, according to Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields. Fields said Sunday that two substations had been damaged by gunfire, in what was described as "intentional vandalism." 

Because the equipment was damaged and needed to be replaced, the timeline for turning the power back on has been longer than it might otherwise be in an emergency situation, said representatives for Duke Energy, the utility company that serves most of the county.

About 10,000 customers have had their power turned back on as of Wednesday evening. In a press conference on Tuesday, Duke Energy spokesperson Jeff Brooks said the timeline had been moved up to Wednesday night, just before midnight. But Brooks warned that reconnecting customers won't be as simple as flipping a switch. 

Power outage in North Carolina's Carthage
A view of the substation while work is in progress as tens of thousands are without power on Moore County after an attack at two substations. Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

"We have made very good progress today ... This is a very complicated process that involves equipment that has been moved into place and installed," said Brooks. "It's there, but now we're going through the process of calibrating it and testing it and preparing it to synchronize with the electric grid, which is a very complex process." 

Brooks said customers can expect to see power being restored in "waves" of a few thousand a time. Power crews have been working around the clock, he said, adding that many live and work in the community. Duke Energy is also working with local, state and federal authorities to investigate the attack on the substations. 

A state of emergency has been in effect in Moore County since Sunday. The power outage has rendered the town's wastewater plant out of order and caused schools to close. On Tuesday, Moore County superintendent of schools Tim Locklair said the district was hoping to resume normal operations by Friday. 

The county is investigating one death that officials said might be related to the blackout after a woman was found dead in a home with no power. No cause of death was given during Tuesday's press conference. 

"Targeted" attacks cause North Carolina power outage 02:44

No motive has been provided for the attack, which is being investigated as a criminal act.

On Monday afternoon, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas addressed the situation, saying the attack "appears to have been deliberate." 

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety told CBS News in a statement on Tuesday that it remains "extremely vigilant" in efforts to secure power stations around the state. 

"Our law enforcement entities are engaged with our local, state and federal partners to ensure our critical infrastructure is secure," said public affairs and media relations deputy director Clyde Roper. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.