Moore County Power Outages
Thousands of people in Moore County, NC are without power after vandalism of electrical substations. Here is the latest coverage from The News & Observer.
The power outages in Moore County that started Saturday evening, suspected to have been intentionally caused by vandals, resulted in accidents and emergencies across the area.
The damage was to electrical substations in the county, prompting law enforcement officers to accompany crews Saturday night sent to make repairs. Two substations were damaged by gunfire, Mike Cameron, Southern Pines’ assistant town manager and fire chief, told The News & Observer on Sunday.
Jeff Brooks, a spokesman with Duke Energy, said Sunday that power might not be restored until Thursday, The News & Observer reported.
”We’re looking at a pretty sophisticated repair with some pretty large equipment, so we do want citizens to be prepared that this will be a multi-day restoration for most customers extending potentially as long as Thursday,” he said.
Earlier in the day on Saturday, protesters had gathered outside the Sunrise Theater in downtown Southern Pines, upset about a drag queen show planned for the small venue Saturday night.
Here’s a rundown of the emergencies we’ve learned of, caused by the vandalized substations:
▪ FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital switched to generator power Saturday night.
“The Moore campus is safely operating on backup generator power, and we have not experienced any issues or concerns,” spokesperson Gretchen Kelly said.
Kelly said the hospital has enough fuel on hand for several days for generator power and plans in place to obtain more fuel as needed. The outage has not affected patients, Kelly said.
▪ Car accidents: The power outage caused several car accidents, Cameron told The N&O, including a four-car crash in Southern Pines that happened when stop lights went dark at an intersection. That accident occurred at the intersection of Morganton Road and U.S. 15-501 in Southern Pines and sent four people to the hospital with minor injuries.
▪ No working traffic lights: A Facebook post by Southern Pines Fire & Rescue noted that there are no working traffic lights there. NCDOT has since been putting up temporary stop signs to help with traffic navigation, Cameron said.
▪ Emergency services: Firefighters were busy responding to residents concerned about how the outage would affect vital medical equipment, Cameron said, while police responded to triggered alarms and reports of break-ins, Cameron said.
Fire, police, water and sewer services are all operating on generators, he said.
▪ Cold weather, no heat: Temperatures were in the low 40s overnight Saturday into Sunday morning in Southern Pines, and Sunday’s overnight forecast dips below freezing into Monday morning. (See below for tips on staying safe when you don’t have power and need to stay warm.)
▪ Schools closed: All Moore County schools will be closed on Monday because of the outages. An update is expected Monday evening on Tuesday’s status.
▪ Lost revenue for businesses: The outage hit at an unfortunate time for merchants in Southern Pines and neighboring Pinehurst, both of which feature locally owned stores that attract thousands out-of-town shoppers at the holidays.
Southern Pines had its annual Christmas tree lighting at the downtown train station on Nov. 26, during which Santa arrived by firetruck and sat for photos with children. Throughout the season, decorated Christmas trees line the sidewalk along Broad Street, home to clothing and gift boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, a book store and the Sunrise Theater.
Calls to businesses that normally would be open on Sunday could not go through.
In the Village of Pinehurst, the annual Christmas tree lighting in Tufts Memorial Park just happened Friday evening, with local restaurants selling food and drinks and shops staying open late. A grocery store providing free cookies and icing so people could decorate their own, and a trolley shuttled people from the community center to reduce traffic problems. Historic hotels in the village are festooned with garlands and red ribbons.
Help for those in Moore County
▪ Charging stations: The Southern Pines Police Department has opened its C. Michael Haney Community Room to the public for charging electronic devices. Location: 450 W. Pennsylvania Ave., Southern Pines.
▪ An emergency shelter is expected to open at the Moore County Sportsplex at 4 p.m. Sunday, The Pilot newspaper reported. That is located off of N.C. 22 and U.S. 15-501 in Carthage.
Anyone with any information about the vandalism should contact the Moore County Sheriff’s Office at 910-947-2931.
Tips for winter power and heat outages
Keep these tips in mind if you have lost power:
▪ If you have a generator, never run it inside your home or garage. Carbon monoxide fumes can build up and become deadly.
▪ You should also never use a charcoal grill or camp stove inside, for either cooking or heating. Like generators, the fumes they produce can be toxic.
▪ If you smell gas at any point during a power outage or otherwise, leave your home immediately and call your utility provider.
▪ During an outage, do not open refrigerators or freezers unless absolutely necessary. Cold air can escape, allowing food to thaw and spoil more quickly.
If you have a battery powered radio (and batteries), use it to get emergency alerts when your power is out.
Flashlights are also key so that you have a light source during power outages.
The National Weather Service recommends the following safety tips if you lose heat:
▪ Close off rooms that you aren’t using to avoid wasting heat.
▪ Stuff towels or rags in the cracks under doors.
▪ Close blinds or curtains on your windows to keep in some heat.
▪ Eat and drink. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat. Drink lots of water and other non-caffeinated, non-alcoholic drinks to prevent dehydration. Cold air is very dry.
▪ Wear layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing. Remove layers to avoid overheating, sweating and subsequent chill.
During a winter storm: Kerosene and space heater safety
If your power or heat goes out during cold weather, you might use a kerosene heater — which usually do not require electricity to operate — to provide heat in the meantime.
But these heaters come with safety risks, including possible fire hazards, toxic fumes and burns, and it’s important to operate them with caution.
Keep in mind these tips from the Insurance Information Institute:
▪ You can reduce hazards by closely following the recommendations from the manufacturer of your specific heater. Check on the packaging or in the manual that came with your heater for more information.
▪ Check the fuel gauge of your heater regularly. Most well-designed kerosene heaters put off no strong odors, but could emit a faint smell that’s especially noticeable when you enter the house. A strong odor could indicate that the heater is out of fuel, so check the levels regularly.
▪ Make sure you have adequate ventilation and allow for the flow of fresh air in and out of your home by opening a door or window at least one inch. Kerosene heaters can emit toxic fumes, including carbon monoxide, and allowing fresh air in can reduce the risks of asphyxiation.
▪ You should always keep an eye on your heater when you’re using it. That means it’s a best practice to turn it off when you’re sleeping.
▪ If you spill any kerosene, clean it up immediately. The fuel is a fire hazard.
▪ Keep the heater away from furniture, bedding, clothing, curtains, paper and other flammable materials.
▪ Remember that touching any part of the heater above the open flame can result in serious burns. Keep babies, toddlers, young children and pets away from the heater.
▪ Never refuel your kerosene heater inside, or while it’s still hot. Wait for it to cool down first.
Many of these tips also apply to portable space heaters.
The National Fire Protection Association offers the following additional tips for portable space heaters:
▪ Keep the heater at least 3 feet away from anything that can burn, including people.
▪ Place the heater on a solid, flat surface.
▪ Make sure your heater has an auto shut-off feature to turn the heater off if it tips over.
▪ Never block an exit with a space heater.
▪ Plug the heater directly into the wall outlet. Never use an extension cord.
▪ Turn off and unplug the heater when you leave the room or when you go to sleep.
This story was originally published December 4, 2022 1:22 PM.