Power outages persist

Published 12:52 am Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Washington’s docks suffer some damage, loss of dinghy dock

Area residents without power as the result of Hurricane Irene are asking the same question: When will power be restored?

Some of those residents could be asking that question for several days.

Washington Electric Utilities, Tideland Electric Membership Corp. and Progress Energy crews are continuously working to restore power to their customers. Contract crews and mutual-aid crews are assisting local power providers in that effort. Some of those crews are finding it hard to reach areas without power because of downed trees.

WEU crews, contract crew and mutual-aid crews — about 90 crews in all — are working feverishly to restore power to WEU customers.

“We have about 3,500 customers still without electricity,” City Manager Josh Key said shortly after 3 p.m. Monday.

“No, we don’t,” Kay said when asked if city officials had an estimate on when power would be restored to the entire WEU service area, which includes about 14,000 customers.

“We’ve got numerous, numerous contract crews and mutual-aid crews out working,” Kay said. “They’re working primarily to get major circuits up.”

Once those major circuits are up, those crews will begin focusing their efforts on restoring power to neighborhoods and individual customers, Kay said.

Tideland’s offices were closed Monday as employees focused on restoring power to customers.

“We have concluded an aerial survey of all transmission and major distribution circuits in Tideland’s six county service area. The aerial survey revealed that damage was least severe in the eastern most portions of our service territory, Dare County and Ocracoke Island,” reads a Tideland news release. “Damage is most severe along those shorelines closest to the mouth of the Pamlico and Neuse Rivers where Hurricane Irene momentarily stalled creating near record storm surge. The majority of our members will have power restored in the next 24 to 48 hours. Then we will be looking at several days of work to deal with individual outages involving damaged and/or broken meter bases and residential flooding.”

Tideland lost its generator on Ocracoke Island on Sunday.

As of noon Monday, more than 15,000 Tideland customers (county by electric meters) remained without power. The breakdown by county follows:

  • Beaufort County, 6,926;
  • Hyde County, 3,828;
  • Pamlico County, 3,276;
  • Craven County, 2,557;
  • Washington County, 931.

Electric service was cut off for one hour to Tideland’s Silver Hill substation Monday evening so repairs could be made to Progress Energy’s transmission line. The planned outage affected Tideland customers south of the Pamlico River who had power restored earlier Monday or Sunday.

As of 1 p.m. Monday, 4,600 Progress Energy customers in Beaufort County were without power. Progress Energy provides power to some areas of southern Beaufort County.

Progress Energy had restored power to some Chocowinity-area residents by midafternoon Monday.

Washington’s docks suffered slight to moderate damage.

“We lost the dinghy dock, probably. I don’t know if it can be salvaged or not,” said Teresa Hamilton, docks supervisor, on Monday. “It went through the blue railing in a couple of different places, and the pilings will probably have to be washed back down. They’re leaning. We have another piling that will have to be washed down on A dock. We lost three boards on A dock. Then on G dock, it looks like it’s washed up a little bit, and, hopefully, we can just wash that down. It’s just up a little bit. …The docks, otherwise, did just fine.”

As of Monday afternoon, the docks were without power.

“The (power) pedestals are corroded from the brackish water. We’re trying to assess … whether or not to replace the assemblies or if it’s just as cheap to replace the pedestals,” Hamilton said. “Right now, we have no electricity. We won’t have a pump-out station. … I don’t know how long it will take. It usually takes about two weeks to get these parts in. We’re going to need a lot of parts. I don’t know how long it’s going to take.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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