PINEHURST — On Saturday, Dec. 3, Moore County suffered an attack on two substations that left over 40,000 residents and businesses in the dark.
Just after 7 p.m., several different communities across Moore County began experiencing power outages. As utility companies began responding to the different substations, evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a Sunday news conference in Carthage that authorities have not determined a motivation. The sheriff said it appeared the culprits pulled up and “opened fire on the substation, the same thing with the other one.”
“No group has stepped up to acknowledge or accept that they’re the ones that done it,” Fields said. “We’re looking at all avenues.”
The sheriff noted that the FBI was working with state investigators to determine who was responsible. “It was targeted. It wasn’t random,” Fields added.
State leaders weighed in on the attack.
“An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, intentional crime, and I expect state and federal authorities to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice,” Gov. Roy Cooper wrote on Twitter Sunday.
U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, who moved to Southern Pines earlier this year, said, “Last night, unknown individuals vandalized at least two substations in Moore County with criminal intent. Motive for this crime remains unknown. Many Moore County residents remain without power. I want to thank Sheriff Ronnie Fields and all local law enforcement, as well as the SBI and FBI, for their quick action to respond to the incident. I have also been in contact with Duke Energy and know they are working on all options to restore power as quickly as possible.”
In the aftermath, Moore County citizens have banded together to get through the cold temperatures in the Sandhills.
The Southern Pines Police Department at 450 W. Pennsylvania Ave. has opened its C. Michael Haney Community Room to the public for charging electronic devices. Numerous churches have provided meals, showers, and charging stations.
A shelter opened at the Moore County Sports Complex located at 155 Hillcrest Park Ln. In Carthage.
Both Duke Energy and Randolph Electric Membership Cooperative have crews working around the clock to replace equipment and route power to their customers.
REMC said its crews continue to work and has brought in additional contractor crews to complete the construction work. Early Tuesday, the cooperative completed the construction of the Seven Lakes tie-in and were able to deliver power to the local substation to deliver some level of power to all of its residential members in the affected area.
“I want to commend the REMC team on their ingenuity and hard work to restore some level of power to our members,” stated Dale Lambert, CEO of REMC. “I also want to thank the N.C. Department of Transportation for closing a road, allowing us to work much faster on Monday to construct this tie line.”
The cooperative says its immediate goal is to continue to provide power to members in Moore County in rotating two to three-hour intervals, and continuous, uninterrupted power will occur only once Duke Energy has fully repaired their transmission lines.
Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said multiple pieces of equipment were damaged and will have to be replaced.
“We are looking at a pretty sophisticated repair with some fairly large equipment, and so we do want citizens of the town to be prepared that this will be a multiday restoration for most customers, extending potentially as long as Thursday,” Brooks said.
Anyone with any information regarding the attack is asked to contact the Moore County Sheriff’s Office at 910-947-2931.