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Outages May Last Days After Shootings  12/05 06:20

   

   (AP) -- Two power substations in a North Carolina county were damaged by 
gunfire in what is being investigated as a criminal act, causing damage that 
could take days to repair and leaving tens of thousands of people without 
electricity, authorities said.

   In response to ongoing outages, which began just after 7 p.m. Saturday 
across Moore County, officials announced a state of emergency that included a 
curfew from 9 p.m. Sunday to 5 a.m. Monday. Also, county schools were closed 
Monday.

   "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.

   Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said at a Sunday news conference that 
authorities have not determined a motivation. He said someone 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, adding "we're looking at all avenues."

   The sheriff noted that the FBI was working with state investigators to 
determine who was responsible. He also said "it was targeted."

   "It wasn't random," Fields said.

   Fields said law enforcement is providing security at the substations and for 
businesses overnight.

   "We will have folks out there tonight around the clock," Fields said.

   Roughly 35,400 electric customers in the county were without power on Monday 
morning, down by several thousand from the peak of the outages, according to 
poweroutage.us.

   With cold temperatures Sunday night, the county also opened a shelter at a 
sports complex in Carthage.

   Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks said multiple pieces of equipment were 
damaged and will have to be replaced. He said while the company is trying to 
restore power as quickly as possible, he braced customers for the potential of 
outages lasting days.

   "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 at the news conference.

   Dr. Tim Locklear, the county's school superintendent, announced classes were 
canceled Monday.

   "As we move forward, we'll be taking it day by day in making those 
decisions," Locklear said.

   The county of approximately 100,000 people lies about an hour's drive 
southwest of Raleigh and is known for golf resorts in Pinehurst and other 
communities.

   Andrew Wilkins, a conservation advocate who grew up in Moore County, was 
driving Saturday night from Washington to his parents' small farm in Whispering 
Pines when he noticed all the street lights were out in the county seat of 
Carthage. He arrived to a "pitch black street" and little information about the 
cause or scope of the blackout.

   "When the power was cut, the flow of information was cut too," Wilkins told 
The Associated Press.

   He spent the weekend helping his parents link a generator to their well for 
fresh drinking water and preparing them for cold nights without heat. Local 
grocery stores, such as Food Lion and Harris Teeter, have been distributing 
drinks, ice and pantry items to those who lost power, he said.

   "Their home, like many rural homes, relies on a well for water for fresh, 
clean water, and it's powered by electricity," Wilkins said. "So when the power 
went out, the well stopped working, and when the well stops working, we slowly 
lose pressure until we lose water altogether. People are going to really feel 
the pinch from this as it goes on."

   Wilkins described Southern Pines as a "tight-knit" and "vibrant" community 
of military families, farmers and small businesses owners who have been doing 
all they can to support one another during the power outages. His family's 
neighbors, he said, are storing refrigerated medicines for a local pharmacy 
that lost power.

 
 
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