Five days into the tourist catastrophe caused by a power blackout at Hatteras and Ocracoke, Gov. Roy Cooper has make the requisite on-camera appearances expected in man-made as well as natural disasters.
He has also been working out of the spotlight to focus state resources on helping construction crews repair accidentally severed underground transmission cables as soon as possible.
On Tuesday, Cooper said he and transportation secretary Jim Trogdon visited the Bonner Bridge to inspect the problem firsthand the day before. He said Trogdon, who is an engineer, saw that something more than splicing the cables back together had to be done.
Cooper said the state insisted overhead power transmission lines be constructed across the affected area. Meanwhile, those crews with PCL Construction had not been able to find the third of three underground cables, as water was still rushing in to the dig site. One cable has been fixed and another wasn’t damaged, he said.
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“We told them they needed to be pursuing several options simultaneously to make sure that something happens the fastest,” Cooper told reporters after an event in Raleigh.
Cooper also said has been in touch with local authorities by phone since the accident happened early Thursday.
“I told all of the local officials on the phone over the weekend, if you even think you need something, or may need something, let us know because we may need to secure it from another part of the country,” Cooper said.
The governor added that representatives from Duke Energy and Dominion Energy have been brought in to advise. The state Division of Emergency Management is also working with local officials. The Outer Banks are served by two electric co-ops.
Cooper issued a state of emergency for Dare and Hyde counties on Thursday, which allowed faster movement of generators for public safety agencies by suspending weight and hours of operation restrictions.
Sen. Bill Cook, a Republican who represents that area, said Cooper probably could have issued the state of emergency sooner but he thinks the damage is being repaired as quickly as it can be, even without the governor’s encouragement.
“I don’t know that he can do a whole lot,” Cook said. “He’ll be out there talking, but it’s really up to the electric companies and construction workers to get the job done.”
On Wednesday, Attorney General Josh Stein is sending a team to meet with business owners and community leaders to assess the legal ramifications firsthand.
Stein has been tweeting online links to inform vacationers of their rights, and to collect reports of price-gouging. There is an online price-gouging complaint form and information about disrupted vacations can be found here.