One down, one to go.
Two pieces of good news came for Hatteras and Ocracoke islands Monday after a massive blackout led to the evacuation of visitors during a peak vacation weekend.
While Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative said Sunday that not just one, but three of its transmission cables were cut by the construction company working on the new Bonner Bridge, it turns out only two cables were damaged.
And on Monday, CHEC said one of those two damaged underground cables has been spliced back together and repairs have been started on the second. CHEC also said it is working to build a new overhead transmission line that will run from the south end of Bonner Bridge to meet an existing overhead transmission line.
CHEC said on Sunday that the repairs could take one to two weeks to complete. The islands have been operating on generators since the power outage began on Thursday.
A mandatory evacuation for the islands still was in place Monday and no one was allowed onto the islands without proof of residency.
Power was being provided to the islands using emergency generators from the utility company, along with some privately-owned generators that have helped to alleviate the load.
Maintenance outages still are expected, according to CHEC.
Some residents could begin using their air conditioners and water heaters for now, but the utility companies may request that customers restrict usage again, depending on outdoor temperatures, generator reliability and overall utility load.
Both Tideland Electric Membership Corporation and CHEC said the success of operating the islands on generator power depends on residents following directions about energy conservation.
PCL Construction, the company building the new Bonner Bridge, told CHEC that at about 4:30 a.m. Thursday its crews drove a steel casing into the underground transmission cable running between the south end of the bridge and the overhead riser pole, causing the outage.
Gov. Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency for the islands last week and was expected to visit Monday to inspect the damage and repairs.
The N.C. Department of Transportation Ferry Division announced an alternate schedule for its Cedar Island-Ocracoke and Swan Quarter-Ocracoke routes beginning Monday:
▪ Swan Quarter to Ocracoke: 7:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
▪ Ocracoke to Swan Quarter: 7:00 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
▪ Cedar Island to Ocracoke: 7:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
▪ Ocracoke to Cedar Island: 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.
Only residents, property owners, emergency workers, vendors, and critical infrastructure personnel with Ocracoke re-entry documentation will be allowed onto Ocracoke-bound ferries. Law enforcement officers will be on hand at ferry terminals to enforce the re-entry restrictions.