OUTER BANKS, N.C. (WAVY) - Nearly 40,000 customers in the Outer Banks lost power Friday night.
Dominion Virginia Power crews found downed wires between Point Harbor and Kitty Hawk, where the Currituck Sound meets the Albemarle Sound.
"Just before 6 p.m., we had a defect with one of our transmission lines, which knocked out power to nearly 40,000 customers," said Bonita Harris, with Dominion Virginia Power. "That includes nearly all of the Outer Banks, more than 37,000 of them, and about 2,200 customers in the Elizabeth City area. That also includes the Mann's Harbor delivery point, so quite a lot of people lost power all of a sudden."
WAVY.com spoke with Outer Banks resident Ken Ellington, who was driving to Nags Head when the power went out.
"All of a sudden I noticed all of the street lights were out," said Ellington. "And, then it started hitting me, and I noticed all the businesses and the whole Outer Banks was just black."
Residents like Ellington gathered at the Outer Banks Hospital, which was running on a back up generator. All the 911 service centers in the affected areas were down. Ellington heard nothing on the scanner.
"When I went to turn it on, there was no scanner," said Ellington. "You couldn't hear no police, no EMS, no nothing."
Harris told WAVY.com crews suspect the failure was caused by salt contamination on the wires. Salt can act as a conductor for electricity and burn the lines. Wires located between the sound and the ocean, are more susceptible to salt buildup.
Those lines are made up different materials to prevent the buildup from happening, Harris said, but it can be an issue from time to time.
Harris confirmed stop lights and 911 service centers in affected areas were down during the outage.
Power was restored to the majority of the affected areas within 90 minutes. Crews will do forensics on the equipment to be sure salt contamination caused the outage.
"Down here on the Outer Banks, we're tough," said Ellington. "We've been through a lot, I've been through at least 20 hurricanes in my lifetime."
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