RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — “What happened here Saturday night was a criminal attack.”
Those were the first words said when North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper spoke about the power grid attack that has left 32,000 people without power still in Moore County.
Following an internal briefing with emergency management officials, law enforcement and Duke Energy ahead of his statement Monday afternoon, Cooper said, “Regardless of motive, violence and sabotage will not be tolerated.”
Spokesman for Duke Energy, Jeff Brooks, also spent some time at the microphone to brief the public. He confirmed two substations were physically damaged in the Saturday attack and the effects of those damages triggered the larger outage.
The outage has since impacted a combination of 45,000 households and business which Brooks said is “nearly all the customers that Duke Energy serves in Moore County.” Approximately 7,000 of those customers, he said, had power restored on Sunday.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields also spoke saying it is unknown yet if the substations were hit by gunfire simultaneously.
When asked if the perpetrator(s) had an intimate knowledge of the equipment, Fields said, “The individual that [did] the damage knew exactly what they were doing to cause the damage and cause the outage that they did.”
For the majority, Brooks said the outage will continue to extend into Wednesday and possibly Thursday.
To the residents of Moore County, Brooks said, “We recognize how challenging these conditions are and we recognize that as the days progress, those challenges become more acute. So, we take our jobs very seriously and are very committed to serving you in this time.”
As for the progress on repairs, he said “We are working in parallel on many paths to make sure that nothing delays this return.”
Cooper was asked if this situation is being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.
“Investigators are leaving no stone unturned as to what this is. They are looking at every motivation,” he said.
Brooks further announced a $100,000 initial commitment from Duke Energy to the Moore County community that he said will be used to help with some of the community’s needs.
“We live and work in this community, just as many of you do,” Brooks said. “This is a situation that has affected us all, but we will get through this together.”
In his remarks, Sheriff Fields reinforced the importance of spreading the word of their tip line that is being monitored by local, state and federal investigators. That tip line is 910-947-4444.
“Any information or anything you hear, please call that number and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible,” Fields said.