Superstorm Sandy battered beach towns

Superstorm Sandy battered beach towns
Oceanfront houses in the ocean at Rodanthe village on Hatteras Island, where the force of the storm Sandy undermined and buckled Hwy. 12 that runs down the barrier island. (Photo: NCDOT)

The massive "superstorm" Sandy in late October lashed North Carolina's coast from Zeke's Island to Knotts Island, but electric cooperatives in the coastal area experienced relatively few power outages.

As Sandy turned inland to wreak havoc in Mid-Atlantic states north of here, the storm's collision with a jet stream from the Upper Midwest caused snow and scattered power outages in North Carolina's mountain communities.

A furious surf in high tropical force winds and high tides pounded the Outer Banks during the full moon weekend of Oct. 27–28 and into Monday. Ocean tidal surge ripped through dunes in Kitty Hawk, flooding houses two blocks west of the beach highway, and tore up Hwy. 12 at the always-vulnerable S Curves north of Rodanthe village. Electric power and cell phone service were disrupted in parts of Hatteras Island, ferry service to Hatteras and Ocracoke suspended, and the Oregon Inlet bridge closed to all but emergency vehicles as officials inspected it for damage. Soundside flooding left up to two feet of standing water on the highway north of Ocracoke.

While no serious injuries due to the storm were reported, a replica of the 180-foot sailing ship "HMS Bounty" sank when overwhelmed by 30-foot waves off Cape Hatteras. The Coast Guard rescued 14 crew, one of whom died, but the captain went missing.

Eight of North Carolina's electric cooperatives sent line crews, totaling nearly 160 people, to Virginia, Maryland and western North Carolina, to assist electric cooperatives with power restoration efforts in the wake of the storms. Cooperatives that sent crews, including equipment and trucks, were: Central EMC, based in Sanford; EnergyUnited, Statesville; Pee Dee EMC, Wadesboro; Randolph EMC, Asheboro; Rutherford EMC, Forest City; South River EMC, Dunn; Union Power Cooperative, Monroe. Brunswick EMC, Shallotte, sent crews to western North Carolina to assist Blue Ridge EMC, Lenoir, with outage restoration.

The deployment of crews is part of a mutual aid agreement shared between the nation's nearly 1,000 electric cooperatives to help one another in times of emergency, such as natural disasters. Electric cooperatives across the country use the same line system engineering standards, which means line crews from any part of the country can quickly help sister cooperatives in restoration efforts.

"Electricity is critical to the way we live, and it's important that people affected by this storm have power restored as quickly as possible," said Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president of corporate relations for the N.C. Association of Electric Cooperatives, during the event. "We are happy to help our fellow cooperatives and know that they would do the same for us because it's the cooperative way."

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