DARE COUNTY, N.C. – Following the massive evacuation due to the power outage on parts of the Outer Banks, visitors will be allowed to return to both Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands starting at 12 p.m. Friday.
Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative has assured local officials that reliable and adequate power will be available to allow visitors to return. The mandatory power restrictions for Hatteras Island are now lifted to allow CHEC to complete the safe stabilization of the power grid.
Thursday morning CHEC said that it would only be about 1-2 days before power is fully restored to Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands. By early afternoon, crews had completed all work and both islands now have power.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation Ferry Division will resume its regular schedule on the Hatteras-Ocracoke, Cedar Island-Ocracoke and Swan Quarter-Ocracoke routes starting at 4:30 a.m. Friday. Visitors will be allowed to board Ocracoke-bound ferries once the evacuation orders are lifted at noon.
Nearly eight thousand customers have been without power on these parts of the Outer Banks after a massive outage on July 27. During the construction of the new Bonner Bridge that stretches nearly three miles across Oregon Inlet from Bodie Island to Hatteras Island, power lines were cut after a steel casing was driven into an underground transmission cable.
Having to rely on temporary power, county officials asked residents to minimize their electric use so the generators could handle the load. A water conservation alert was also issued due to diminished water production capacity.
A mandatory evacuation for visitors on Hatteras and Ocracoke began July 29. Ferries transported 3,783 visitors and 1,485 vehicles off the islands free of charge during the evacuation. With tourists having to rethink their vacation plans, many Virginia Beach businesses welcomed the uptick in tourism as visitors were displaced.
On July 31, the Wallace and Graham law firm in Salisbury, N.C. sued PCL Civil Constructors, Inc., the contractor for the project, in a class action lawsuit that included several individuals and businesses that have been affected by the outage, which happened during peak tourist season.