Authorities said that tens of thousands were without power in North Carolina following the destruction of two substations by gunfire. An official from Duke Energy said that power in Moore County might not be restored fully until Thursday.
At least 40,000 customers were without power and wastewater pumps across the region were out of commission due to the outages. Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields stated Sunday that someone had “opened fire at the substation and the same thing happened at the other.”
Fields said, “It was an entrance, and they got through it, got to the substation, and shot it as also.” Fields stated that investigators are still trying to establish a motive but that the suspects “knew exactly” what they were doing and that the attack was “targeted.”
Fields stated that “it wasn’t random.” Fields said that the incident is being investigated as criminal, but Fields couldn’t say Sunday whether it rises up to domestic terrorism.
Jeff Brooks, a Duke Energy spokesperson, stated that the power can’t be rerouted as it would during a storm. Brooks said that the equipment will need to be repaired or replaced.
Brooks stated that the repair is complex and involves some large equipment. He asked residents to be aware that it could take several days for customers to complete. Brooks also said that they would like to remind them of this fact.
Fields stated that his office is working closely with the FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to complete the investigation. Gov. Fields stated that Roy Cooper offered resources along with local congressional offices.
A curfew will start at 9 p.m. Fields stated that Sunday will be ET. Schools will close Monday. The sheriff said that additional security will be in place at the substation overnight and surrounding local businesses.
Sunday night was declared a state of emergency. A shelter was opened at Moore County Sports Complex.
Moore County residents reported power outages at 7:15 p.m. According to the sheriff’s Office, Saturday was ET.
“As utility companies started responding to different substations,” the office stated, adding that evidence showed that intentional vandalism occurred at multiple locations. “Moore County Sheriff’s Deputies, along with other law enforcement agencies in the county, responded to different areas and are providing additional site security.”
Police want anyone with information on the alleged incident, described by the sheriff’s department as an “act of violence”, to contact them.
As of Sunday afternoon, power had not been restored to Moore County. However, Randolph Electric Membership Corporation and Duke Energy, two local power companies, reported about 37,000 and 3,000 outages, respectively. According to census data, the number of outages reported roughly equals the number of Moore County households.
Governor Roy Cooper stated Sunday that he had spoken with Duke Energy and state law enforcement to restore power.
Cooper tweeted, “I have spoken to Duke Energy and state law enforcement officers about the power outages at Moore County.” Cooper wrote on Twitter that “They are investigating and working hard to restore electricity to those who were affected.” “As needed, the state provides support.”
The county’s sewer lift stations were also affected. Southern Pines advised residents to avoid driving during the blackout, as multiple accidents had already occurred in the first hours.
“We are sorry to inform you that the Moore County power outage has caused our sewer lift stations to go down.” The town shared a Facebook statement saying, “they would ask you to limit your water and sewer use until the stations are back up.”
“We also advise staying off the roads if you are in a safe location,” the statement continued. “There are multiple accidents that have occurred.”