County struggles with water, power

By: By Gavin Stone - Staff Writer
Linemen work to take down a utility pole whose top broke off during the storm Sunday, leaving power lines dangling at the intersection of Love Lane and Hawthorne Street near L.J. Bell Elementary School.

Rockingham’s water plant flooded late Sunday when Hurricane Florence threw one last punch at the county, but the county and Hamlet’s water services have picked up the slack.

Eddie Byrne, director of operations at the Rockingham Water Plant, said his staff fought the water all weekend but “Mother Nature won.”

“We had it till that last spurt (on Sunday),” Byrne said.

The plant on Rockingham Road is in a fairly low-lying area. When water rises above the mouth of the tanks, it contaminates the supply. Once the water has been contaminated, city staff must drain all 800,000 gallons, chlorinate it to clean it, pump it back in and test it for bacteria after 24 hours before service can return to normal, Byrne explained.

Public Works Director Jerry Austin said the county had been providing Rockingham water “heavily” since Saturday morning, and Hamlet assisted as well. Byrne said no Rockingham water customers would have noticed a difference in their water.

The test results for the city’s water should be completed by early Thursday, Byrne said.

Rockingham was the only water provider in the county that had the issue. Asked whether the metal caps to the tanks could be sealed tighter to prevent this kind of contamination, Byrne said no.

The water plant also flooded during Hurricane Matthew, Byrne said.

During the storm, more than 2,500 customers were without power in Richmond County, but that figure had dropped to 1,098 by about 7:30 p.m., according to outage maps from Duke Energy and Pee Dee Electric.

The longest estimations for repairs for Duke’s customers was listed as 11:45 p.m. Sept. 22. Pee Dee does not include a timeline for repairs on its website, but only 39 of the 1,098 were Pee Dee customers as of Tuesday evening.

County Manager Bryan Land said that at one point, 75 percent of county residents were without power.

As for cable and internet service, Scott Pryzwansky, a spokesperson for Spectrum, said many of the company’s services depended on the availability of power, not any issue with Spectrum’s services themselves.

“Spectrum services are often restored with, or immediately following, restoration of power at the customer’s location,” Pryzwansky said. “However, in some cases, your Spectrum services may still be affected even after power returns to your home or business, due to a loss of power to the Spectrum network nearby.”

Spectrum uses backup generators for its networks, he said.

Richmond County is part of Spectrum’s Western Carolina market, Pryzwansky said. This market had 94 percent of customers with service available as of about 4 p.m. Tuesday.

“Of the 6 percent without service, the overwhelming majority are due to a loss of power to Spectrum’s network,” Pryzwansky said. “Service will be restored to these customers as soon as the power company restores power to our neighborhood nodes.”

Linemen work to take down a utility pole whose top broke off during the storm Sunday, leaving power lines dangling at the intersection of Love Lane and Hawthorne Street near L.J. Bell Elementary School.
https://www.yourdailyjournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/web1_utility-1.jpgLinemen work to take down a utility pole whose top broke off during the storm Sunday, leaving power lines dangling at the intersection of Love Lane and Hawthorne Street near L.J. Bell Elementary School. Gavin Stone | Daily Journal

By Gavin Stone

Staff Writer

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected] daily journal.com.

Reach Gavin Stone at 910-817-2674 or [email protected] daily journal.com.