Residents in Moore County, North Carolina entered their third day without lights or heat after what officials believe was a targeted attack on electric substations.
Nearly 37,000 homes and businesses were without power still early Tuesday morning, according to poweroutage.us.
That number dropped from the 45,000 who were left in the dark and put under a curfew after two electric substations were damaged by gunfire Sunday evening.
Local officials have offered little information about a possible suspect or motive.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said Sunday no one has come forward to claim they carried out the attack.
“This individual that done this, it was targeted, it wasn’t random,” Fields added, squashing rumors that the incident was connected to a Southern Pines drag show that attracted protests.
By Sunday night, energy crews had restored power to nearly 7,000 customers in Moore County. Officials with Duke Energy Corp, which owns the two substations, say it may take until Thursday to restore power to the thousands who remain without.
In some areas, the damage caused is “beyond repair,” according to Duke Energy General Manager Jason Hollifield.
“We are restoring customers where possible, but the damage is beyond repair in some areas. That leaves us with no option but to replace large pieces of equipment – which is not an easy or quick task,” Hollifield said.
Authorities instated a county-wide curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. with the intention to protect residents and businesses.
“FBI Charlotte is investigating the willful damage to power facilities in Moore County. We are in regular contact with local law enforcement and private sector partners,” the agency said.
On Monday, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas noted that the attack “appears to have been deliberate.”
“We are working with energy companies in local communities to address the situation impacting the power that reaches homes in the targeted neighborhoods,” Mayorkas said. “The question is, is it an act of malfeasance or otherwise? Early evidence suggests that it was deliberate. And the investigation is underway.”
In addition to the county-wide curfew, residents have been asked to conserve fuel as officials have also opened a shelter with bathrooms and shower facilities.
The massive outage has left wastewater pumps out of order and closed schools within the county.