CORDOVA — Crews from Duke Energy and Willbro’s Construction tackled an enormous fallen fir tree blocking Center Street and pinning power lines to the ground Wednesday as 25 affected customers waited for their electricity to be restored.
“We’ve got the line grounded and we use (personal protective equipment) for everything we do,” said Steve Rolan of Willbro’s. “We work through Duke. We’ve got a Duke representative right over there. We do this every day.”
By Wednesday afternoon, the tree was an approximately 12 ft. high pile of wide logs surrounded by several smaller stacks of branches and twigs on both sides of the street.
Josh Park of Duke Energy said all of Cordova’s customers still without power would not have much longer to wait.
“See my fuse that’s open with the red pelican hanging in it?” he said. “There’s 25 customers beyond that fuse that feeds and goes down and hits Lear Street, and catches Center Street on a tap to the right. We’ll have all their energy restored probably in about four hours.”
Despite the large amount of debris from the tree — nearly twice as tall or better than the tallest of the crewmen — Park said getting it out of the way would not take much time.
“This is actually a fairly simple job, once we get everybody in place,” he said. “This will be the last stop out here, and we’ll have all of Cordova on.”
Asked about outages in other parts of the county, Park said the crews were “knockin’ ‘em out.”
“This morning it was 915 out of our ops center,” he said. “We serve Richmond and Anson counties. Yesterday, it was about 6,000. We got a lot on yesterday.”
By 5 p.m. Wednesday, Duke Energy’s interactive online outage map showed 208 customers without power — a sharp decline from yesterday’s more than 1,000 at about the same time.
Florence, South Carolina, still has 19,233 customers waiting for restoration, with Robeson County a close second at 16,726 without power. Other nearby counties’ numbers as of 5 p.m. Wednesday were: Scotland, 728; Anson, 148; Montgomery, 18; Scotland, 728; and Moore, 2,949.
By 4 p.m. Tuesday, Pee Dee Electric posted on its Facebook page that all of its North Carolina customers’ power was restored.
The National Weather Service’s Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service showed the Lumber River at West 5th Street, Lumberton, still at a flood stage of 13 ft. Efforts from individuals, groups and agencies in Richmond and surrounding counties are under way to collect items to assist flood victims in Robeson County.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.