South end of the construction site for the new Bonner Bridge.
The replacement span for the Bonner Bridge had been moving forward almost flawlessly until yesterday morning at 4:30 a.m. That’s when PCL Construction, the contractors building the bridge drove a piling through an underground cable at the southern end of Oregon Inlet.
Severing the cable immediately cut power to Hatteras Island and Ocracoke.
The damage to the cable does not effect anything north or Oregon Inlet, so our Brindley Beach visitors are not effected at all by this. Unless a visit to Hatteras Island or Ocracoke is on the agenda.
The hope was that Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative, who manages power for Hatteras Island, would have the equipment on hand to repair the damage. That does not seem to be the case and estimates are it will take one to two weeks before full power is restored.
Hatteras Island and Ocracoke do have emergency generators and additional generators are being brought in to supply power, but under any circumstances, that will be emergency power only. Certainly no air conditioning, and Hatteras Island and Ocracoke residents have been told to expect scheduled rolling blackouts.
Because of the uncertainty about power and the limited amount available, Ocracoke and Hatteras have been evacuated. Only residents and key personnel are permitted to stay there.
There are a number of unanswered questions concerning what has happened. To date, no one has indicated whether there were warnings or maps indicating where the cable was located. There are also questions about loss of income. This represents a blow to the body of Hatteras and Ocracoke businesses and their employees. It is unclear how or if that will be addressed, or if the Dare and Hyde County and the state will be able to make up the loss in tax revenues.
But it’s one step at a time right how, and the first step is getting full power back to Hatteras Island and Ocracoke.