modest crowd of roughly 40 locals and business owners attended an
informal meeting hosted by Dare County to address compensation options
after the power outage.
week-long power outage, which led to an evacuation of visitors, caused
financial hardship for many local business owners and workers who rely
on the summertime income. “I went from making $3,000 per day to $100
per day,” said one restaurant owner at the meeting.
here to listen to you folks… and to [learn] how we can be of assistance
moving forward,” said Dare County Commissioner Chairman Bob Woodard in
his opening remarks.
an introduction, County Manager Bob Outten spoke to the group, noting
that the biggest question the county has received since the outage
ended is “What now?”
outlined the courses of action available for both individuals and
business owners, which included personal needs – such as paying bills
or groceries – and economic losses. He emphasized that all information
the county currently had on options after the outage was also available
online at http://www.darenc.com/government/hatteras-island-power-outage-information.
advised individuals who were struggling to pay bills after a loss of
work to contact the Dare County Social Services department. “They’re
the people who will try to help solve those problems,” he said. “Their
whole job in recovery [efforts] is to connect people with resources.”
also noted that since the power outage was not a federally declared
disaster, (like the majority of storms that significantly affect the
Outer Banks), FEMA assistance was not available.
local businesses and economic losses, there were several options.
Impacted parties could make a claim through PCL directly on their
could make a claim and then follow up with an attorney if there was not
a satisfactory resolution, or could contact an attorney directly.
PCL was invited to attend the meeting and declined, but did send a statement for the event which was read outloud.
and foremost, PCL would like to apologize for the inconvenience the
power outage caused to tourists, residents and local businesses,” the
letter read before outlining the claim submission process through the
website. “If you have questions about the claim process, a phone number
is listed on the website. We believe this process is the most efficient
and timely way to resolve matters.”
my perspective at least, it’s probably good that they are accepting
responsibility, and that they have a claims [area] on their website,”
also noted that the county would not file forms for residents on their
behalf, but did advise people to contact Dare County Social Services if
the claim submission process was confusing.
“The better you document the claim, the quicker you will get it,” he said.
for the question of which route was the best one for compensation –
whether it was contacting PCL or contacting an attorney – Outten said
that there was no right answer. “I cannot tell you which way is the
best way to go,” he said. “But certainly you should do something if you
want to be reimbursed.”
letter from the North Carolina Attorney General’s office was also read
at the meeting, which advised that residents could call the state’s
Consumer Protection Division for questions as well at 919-716-6000.
Outten said that the county had set up its own Hatteras Island Power
Outage Economic Assessment Form to garner knowledge on the exact costs
of the week-long outage.
been asked over and over ‘What was the economic impact on Dare County?’
and we don’t have an answer,” said Outten. “[With this survey], when or
if the time comes that we need that information, we’ll have that info
After an overview of all the information the county had available, the floor was open for questions.
resident noted that at least one law firm was trying to recruit people
for a class action lawsuit, and wondered what the criteria should be
for a person to join.
you’re going to go with a lawyer, use the same criteria you would use
to close on a house, or do a will… go about it the same way you would
pick an attorney for anything else,” said Outten.
local business owner asked the group if anyone had heard a follow-up
from PCL after submitting a claim, and pointed out that the lack of
response after an initial submission was troubling. “If they let people
sit there and wonder [what’s happening with their claim], then people
are going to start panicking again.”
Woodard responded that the county would contact PCL about enhancing
communication after a claim was filed. “We will follow up with
them tomorrow,” he said.
were also questions and observations about the evacuation, as well as
whether an outage could happen again since the Bonner Bridge
construction project still has more than a year left before it is
for the evacuation, Outten and Woodard noted that while there were
still people who used A/Cs and / or remained on the island despite the
evacuation guidelines, the goals of the evacuation were met.
evacuation was implemented to address concerns about water
availability, as well as to restore temporary power to the villages
through generators, which could not handle the extra load of the large
seasonal population. “Every time they flipped a switch, the generators
couldn’t handle it,” said Outten, noting that reducing the population
effectively reduced the load.
were also safety concerns about allowing “thousands of people into dark
homes,” where there was no light, air conditioning, or power of any
met our evacuation goals,” said Outten, adding that if there were still
power or water issues after the evacuation, then next steps would have
for whether the outage could happen again, CHEC representatives at the
meeting said that because the lines were now overhead lines, there was
no chance a piling could be accidently driven into an underground line.
The overhead lines also make potential repairs much easier, as no
sub-contractor or special equipment is needed to proceed. “Making
repairs is something we can now do in a much timelier manner,” said
Susan Flythe of CHEC.
meeting was also attended by representatives from the Dare County
Public Relations Department, the Dare County Emergency Management
Department, and county commissioners Danny Couch and Wally Overman.
resident or visitor who was unable to attend the meeting can find all
the information that was covered on the Dare County website, http://www.darenc.com/government/hatteras-island-power-outage-information. The website will be updated with new info as soon as it becomes available.