North Carolina: Thousands without power after blackouts

CARTHAGE, N.C. (HPD) — Tens of thousands of people could be left without power for several days in North Carolina after authorities say unknown assailants shot at two power substations.

On Monday in Moore County, southwest of Raleigh, some businesses gave out free coffee and food. Others, left without internet, received only cash payments. A local official called the area, famous for its golf courses and pottery shops, “strangely quiet” at a time when businesses are often packed due to Christmas shopping and the arrival of tourists. Local schools were closed.

Traffic lights stopped working throughout the county. Drivers treated the intersections as four-way interchanges, causing some traffic in places like downtown Carthage. Drivers honked their horns to signal each other whose turn it was to move forward. Many restaurants and businesses had “Closed” signs in front of empty parking lots.

Kalai and Christine Balutski of Pinebluff were sitting under a heater Monday, drinking hot beverages, at Red’s Corner cafe in Southern Pines. The couple have been without power since 7 pm Saturday and are heading to the neighboring county to eat at restaurants and watch sports on TV, awaiting updates.

“We have two dogs at home, so we can’t just leave,” Kalai Balutski said. “We have a portable charger for phones, and we have candles in a room to warm it up enough to sleep,” he added.

Wearing her Pittsburgh Steelers coat, cap and boots, Christine Balutski said she has had a hard time continuing to work at her job as a technology assistant for a hospital system because she doesn’t have Wi-Fi at home.

The Pinehurst Resort & Country Club has also been affected by the power outage. Due to limited electrical generation capacity at The Carolina Hotel, the resort has consolidated all guests into rooms with available electricity. The golf courses were still open, but the clubhouse was closed.

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Hannah Schoenbaum is a contributor to the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a non-profit program that appoints journalists to underreported issues.

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Gary D. Robertson contributed from Raleigh, North Carolina.

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