Work continues to restore power in Orange, Durham

Mar. 08, 2014 @ 08:03 PM

C.W. Stanford Middle was empty Saturday morning except for the volunteers that turned the school into a shelter for those without power.

The shelter opened Friday evening following sleet and freezing rain earlier that day and the night before. The glazing of ice brought down trees and power lines causing extensive power outages throughout central North Carolina.

“We opened at 6 and we had folks coming in then til about 9,” said Stan Morris of the American Red Cross. “About five or 10 people spent the night.”

Morris is executive director of the Central N.C. Chapter of the ARC. He volunteered at Stanford Middle. The residents who spent the night, he said, were from the Efland area and down through Hillsborough.

“A few years back, we had an ice event, but it’s been a while since we had one that knocked the power out for this many people,” Morris said.

According to Duke Energy, about 12,700 customers in Orange County remained without power late Saturday compared to the 720 in Durham County on Saturday morning. Current estimates have all of Orange County’s power restored as late as 12:30 a.m. March 13 and Durham’s by 7 p.m. Sunday.

The first outages in both counties were reported between midnight and 1 a.m. Friday.

Duke Energy communications manager Tammie McGee said that, at the height of the outages, 600,000 customers lost power.

“It will be approximately 11 p.m. Sunday before the majority of people get their power restored,” she said.

As of Saturday morning, 280,000 Duke Energy customers lacked power and 4,300 personnel worked to restore it.

Personnel from the Midwest and Florida operations assisted with the outages in North Carolina. They also got help from Georgia Power, Louisiana Gas and Electric and several electric co-ops, McGee said.

“There was extensive damage between Greensboro and Durham,” said McGee. “Transmission lines are down and that affects a lot of customers, so they’re working on those first.”

As crews work to restore power, Morris said that he and the other agencies would re-assess if they were needed. The shelter was closed Saturday afternoon.

Orange County Schools Superintendent Dr. Gerri Martin made her rounds Saturday, visiting schools in the northern portion of the county most directly affected by the ice.

Martin lives within a few miles of Stanford Middle. Her power was in and out, but never out for an extended time, she said. Several school board members lost power, she said, and she communicated with them using text messages.

Michael Gilbert, OCS student discipline and safety officer, said “we’re glad to be helping in any capacity. These are our families.”

Due to power availability, the Orange County main library in Hillsborough, the Cybrary and Carrboro Branch library, Little River Park and Efland Community Center were closed Saturday.

Estimated restoration times can be tracked online at McGee said that the outage maps are updated about every 30 minutes.