Lawsuits are pending against a construction company blamed for a power outage on two islands along North Carolina's Outer Banks.
At least three lawsuits filed by local business owners this week seek compensation from PCL Construction. The lawsuits say the company building the long-needed replacement bridge over Oregon Inlet was negligent and should pay for the financial losses suffered by businesses at the peak of vacation season.
PCL is building a new bridge along the chain of barrier islands and struck an underground transmission cable early Thursday morning. The incident has left Hatteras and Ocracoke islands without power. Mandatory evacuation orders issued over the weekend require everyone except full-time residents to leave the busy vacation spots that typically see between 50,000-60,000 visitors during a 'peak' summer week.
The company declined comment in response to the lawsuits.
The Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative says it could still be another 6 to 10 days before full power can be restored to the two islands.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
More visitors to two islands on North Carolina's Outer Banks are being ordered to leave because the islands are still without electricity.
Dare County issued a mandatory evacuation order for all non-residents on Hatteras Island went into effect at 6 am Saturday morning.
The order was issued as Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative officials are still working to assess the damage caused by a construction crew to an underground transmission cable. The contractor hit the cable on Thursday causing Hatteras Island and neighboring Ocracoke Island to lose all electricity.
Officials say it is still unclear how long it will take to survey the damage and complete repairs. Residents are being warned that the process could take weeks.
This is the height of tourism season for both islands which are popular beach vacation destinations for many in the mid-Atlantic region. Dare County officials estimate that between 50,000 and 60,000 people vacation on Hatteras Island during a typical 'peak season' week.
Two islands along the Outer Banks of North Carolina are almost completely without power and officials say things could stay that way for days, possibly even weeks.
Virtually all customers lost service around 4:30 a.m. Thursday morning when the company building a new bridge on Hatteras Island drove a steel casing into an underground transmission cable. North Carolina Governor, Roy Cooper, declared a State of Emergency for the areas affected.
The Cape Hatteras Electric Company (CHEC) supplies electricity to some 7,700 customers on Hatteras and neighboring Ocracoke Island.
According to a statement on CHEC's website, the company is asking customers to prepare for an extended outage.
The Outer Banks Voice reports that repairs should only take a few days, but if there are parts that need to be ordered, the repairs could take weeks to complete.
CHEC told the Outer Banks Voice that a schedule of rolling blackouts will be necessary until repairs can be complete.
According to the 2010 Census, Hatteras has a year-round population of just over 4,300 residents, but that number swells during the busy summer vacation months. The famous Hatteras Island Lighthouse attracts over 175,000 visitors every year.
Neighboring Ocracoke, which is only accessible by ferry, has a year-round population of just under 950 residents. All visitors to Ocracoke are being ordered to evacuate because of the situation and will not be allowed back until power can be restored. Hyde County public information officer Donnie Shumate told WVEC there are some 10,000 visitors on the island. He said the main concern was for their safety, adding that officials want to get visitors off the island by noon on Friday.