Moore County, North Carolina is declaring its state of emergency as power outages continueTwo substations were damaged at the end of the week. The attack left approximately 45,000 people without power in North Carolina.
Under the state of emergency, a nightly 9:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. curfew is in place, and county residents are encouraged to conserve fuel.
Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said Monday that the company had restored power to about 7,000 customers. About 38,000 remain without power, and Brooks said it is likely that full restoration will not occur until Wednesday or Thursday. In a press release shared earlier in the day, Jason Hollifield, general manager of Duke Energy, said “the damage is beyond repair in some areas.”
“This leaves us with no choice but to replace large pieces of equipment – which is not an easy or quick task,” Holyfield said.
The outage also disabled wastewater pumps in the area, and the county’s schools were closed. Traffic lights are also closed, and emergency shelters have been opened to the public.
According to Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields, the power outage was first reported to police shortly after 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, December 3. When utility companies responded to the substations, “evidence was found that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at several sites,” Fields said on December 4.
In a press conference held Sunday afternoon, Fields said the damage was caused by gunfire. Fields said the scene was similar at both sites, calling the attack “targeted” and carried out by a person or persons who “knew exactly what they were doing.”
No motive has been given for the attack, which is being investigated as a criminal act. At his Sunday press conference, Fields could not say whether the incident rises to the level of domestic terrorism.
On Monday afternoon, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas addressed the situation, saying the attack “appears to be intentional.”
“We are working with energy companies in local communities to address the situation affecting electricity reaching homes in targeted neighborhoods.” “The question is whether it was an act of malice or otherwise? Preliminary evidence suggests it was intentional. Further investigation is underway.”
The Charlotte, North Carolina, branch of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the attack. On Sunday, the office told CBS News it was “investigating intentional damage to power facilities” in the area, but declined to comment further because the investigation was ongoing.
On Monday afternoon, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper called the attack a “criminal act” at a news conference.
“This was a deliberate attack that caused significant casualties,” Cooper said.