LUMBERTON — Robeson County residents could be without power for days as crews try to get around floodwater to repair infrastructure.
On Monday morning, Lumberton was experiencing a citywide outage and all but 300 of Duke Energy’s customers in Robeson County were in the dark. Lumbee River EMC has lost connection with its outage map and its phone system is down.
Duke Energy is estimating it can restore power to its 23,689 customers in Robeson by Sunday at 11:45 p.m.
The prognosis is more encouraging in Lumberton, where crews from Kings Mountain, Gastonia and Concord have been helping repair electrical lines and poles in anticipation of Duke Energy’s repairs being complete.
Lamar Brayboy, director of Electric Utilities for Lumberton, said he hopes Duke Energy can repair local transmission lines late this evening or Tuesday and that city residents will again have power in about 24 hours, taking the recent restoration of electricity in Laurinburg as a good sign. But they caution it’s “impossible to tell” exactly when power will be restored until repairs are made.
Water has been cut off in Lumberton and 26,000 county residents were without water as of 1 p.m.
“We’ve been working to repair broken water lines but every time we get one fixed a road washes out and breaks it again,” said Kelli Blue, county finance officer who is acting as a spokesperson for this event. Blue said a substation near Maxton is up and running but that getting pressure back will be “a slow process.”
According to Public Works Director Rob Armstrong, a river intake pump west of Interstate 95 has stopped working and crews can’t reach it because of flooding. As a workaround, he said the city is moving bypass pumps to the Water Plant in Lumberton to try to pump stormwater into the system.
Once the water is back on, residents will be asked to limit their use so that the system can reach full capacity.
County Emergency Operations is working to deliver bottled water for the public to the parking lot at Kimbrell’s on Fayetteville Road. A CodeRED alert from the city said Gov. Pat McCrory is sending water trucks to Lumberton.
Gasoline is scarce in Robeson County and motorists are lining up for pumps to switch on. A few stations were open in Lumberton at 1 p.m. Monday, including Happy Mart at 5102 Fayetteville Road, Circle B at 5105 Fayetteville Road and Sun Do at 5111 Fayetteville Road.
A few grocery stores have opened on generator power: IGA on Roberts Avenue, Food Lion on Roberts Avenue and Food Lion on Elizabethtown Road. Additionally, Christian Aid Ministries is serving food at Bill Sapp Recreation Center on Cedar Street, which is being used as a shelter.