Tens of thousands of people in central North Carolina have been left without power after assailants shot up two electricity substations in rural Moore County on Saturday night, in an event demonstrating the vulnerability of basic American infrastructure.
As FBI, state law enforcement, and local police searched for a suspect, a 9 p.m. curfew was put in place on Sunday for the county’s 100,000 residents. Schools remained closed on Monday and Tuesday, and car crashes were reported due to traffic lights remaining offline. When Governor Roy Cooper was asked if the attack constituted an act of “domestic terrorism,” he said that investigators are “looking at every motivation that could have possibly occurred.” He did acknowledge that the attack raised “a new level of threat.”
Duke Energy, the company that owns the power stations, began assessing damages shortly after power outages began to take effect in Moore County, which is in the state’s sand hills southwest of Raleigh. At the height of the outages, 45,000 customers were without power. As of Tuesday morning, over 36,000 customers were still without power. Duke Energy states that it has all the equipment necessary to restore service, but moving some of the bigger pieces of equipment damaged in the attack to Moore County could take a few more days. “We’re looking at a pretty sophisticated repair with some pretty large equipment, so we do want citizens to be prepared that this will be a multiday restoration for most customers extending potentially as long as Thursday,” said Duke Energy spokesman Jeff Brooks.
Moore County sheriff Ronnie Fields said that “millions of dollars” of damage was done in the attack and that the subsequent charges will have “more teeth, more bite.” He stated that investigators had not made a connection between the shooting and a drag show in nearby Southern Pines on Saturday night that drew protesters. (An organizer of the protests suggested on Facebook that the two events were connected.) But “the persons who did this knew exactly what they were doing,” Fields said, adding that they were “cowards” because they have not come forward.
When a reporter asked President Joe Biden if he knew who the perpetrators were, he said, “No, we don’t yet. I’m running that down.”