North Carolina mass blackout after substations attacked

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ASPartOfMe
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04 Dec 2022, 2:26 pm

Vandalism suspected in outage that left thousands without power in Moore County

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Vandals are suspected to have intentionally damaged electrical substations in Moore County on Saturday night, shutting off power to nearly all of its residences and businesses, and prompting law enforcement officers to accompany crews sent to make repairs. Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said the power went off after 8 p.m. When crews responded, they found “multiple equipment failures” at several substations and what appeared to be intentional damage, Brooks said.

Mike Cameron, Southern Pines’ assistant town manager and fire chief, said Duke officials told him two substations were hit with gunfire.

Power isn’t expected to be “fully restored” until about 10 p.m., Kelly said. Duke reported about 38,000 residences and businesses remained without power Sunday. It provides power to nearly the entire county.

Cameron said the power outage caused several accidents, including a four-vehicle wreck at the intersection of Morganton Road and U.S. 15-501 in Southern Pines that sent four people to the hospital with minor injuries. “The car wreck was totally because the stop lights were out,” he said, adding that the NCDOT has since been putting up temporary stop signs to help with traffic navigation. Firefighters were also busy responding to residents concerned about how the outage would affect vital medical equipment, while police responded to triggered alarms and reports of break-ins, Cameron said. Fire, police, water and sewer services are all operating on generators, he said. Brooks said Sunday that power might not be restored until Monday. That could make for a rough night for Moore County residents as The Weather Channel is forecasting temperatures to drop just below freezing into Monday morning.

The Pilot in Southern Pines reported that a news release from the Moore County Sheriff’s Office said “evidence was discovered that indicated that intentional vandalism had occurred at multiple sites.’

PROTEST OVER DRAG SHOW
Earlier in the day, protesters had gathered outside the Sunrise Theater in downtown Southern Pines, upset about a drag queen show planned for the small venue Saturday night. On her Facebook page, Emily Grace Rainey posted an invitation to the protest. After the lights went out out, Rainey, who became known in Moore County during the pandemic for her opposition to mask mandates, posted on Facebook that, “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.” Later, she posted that the Moore County Sheriff’s Office had come to her house to ask about the outage. “I welcomed them to my home,” wrote Rainey, who organized a group of Moore County residents to travel to Washington on January 6, 2021. “Sorry they wasted their time. I told them that God works in mysterious ways and is responsible for the outage. I used the opportunity to tell them about the immoral drag show and the blasphemies screamed by its supporters.” Rainey said, “I told them God is chastising Moore County, thanked them for coming, and wished them a good night. Thankful for the LEOs service, as always.”

The drag show started at 7 p.m. and was under way when the power went out. Headliner Naomi Dix kept the show going until almost 9 p.m. “I asked that everyone turn on their phone flashlights to illuminate the room,” Dix said. “I then lead the crowd in singing Beyoncé’s ‘Halo.’”


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Mona Pereth
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04 Dec 2022, 3:31 pm

I wonder who actually did this, and why? I hope this doesn't inspire a huge rash of copycats elsewhere.


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04 Dec 2022, 5:16 pm

NC county announces curfew as nearly 40,000 customers remain without power after 2 substations damaged by gunfire

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Authorities have announced a mandatory curfew in a North Carolina county where around 40,000 customers lost power after two power substations were damaged by gunfire Saturday night.

At a news conference Sunday, Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said the county will implement a mandatory curfew from 9 p.m. until 5 a.m., starting Sunday night.

Municipality and county officials “have formed a plan for the night and the next few nights that we may be out of power. It’s a very serious situation,” Fields said. “So we’ve come to an agreement to best protect our citizens and to protect the businesses of our county, we’re going to implement a curfew tonight.”

A gate at one of the locations also appears to have been taken off its hinges, Mike Cameron of the Southern Pines Fire and Rescue Department told CNN on Sunday afternoon.

Cameron said the area is experiencing increased emergency calls due to the lack of power, adding that auto accidents have occurred because traffic lights are out. People who rely on oxygen have placed emergency calls, he said.

Initially, local officials estimated power would be restored Sunday evening, but Cameron said after assessing the damage, they’ve determined it could take at least until Monday.

The equipment that was damaged is not easily replaceable and will have to be brought in to make the repairs, Cameron said.

A local supermarket is distributing ice to impacted residents, according to a news release from grocery chain Harris Teeter.

The North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are responding, according to Hudson. He said the motive remains unknown.

Hudson, whose congressional district includes Moore County, said the Southern Pines Police Department has opened a community center for residents to charge devices.

CNN has reached out to Southern Pines police and the FBI.

More than 38,000 customers were without power across the county Sunday morning, according to the Duke Energy outage map. According to poweroutage.us, about 41,000 customers had lost power in Moore County and neighboring Hoke County.

Gov. Roy Cooper on Sunday tweeted that state law enforcement would join the investigation.

Moore County is in central North Carolina, about 50 miles northwest of Fayetteville.


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05 Dec 2022, 1:39 am

'Targeted' N.C. power outages could leave more than 100, 000 in the dark for days

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Officials on Sunday cautioned residents of Moore County, North Carolina, to prepare for days without electricity after a targeted attack on substations left all 103,000 residents in the dark.

The FBI and state investigators have joined the inquiry to determine who was behind the attack, officials said, as a state of emergency with a 9 p.m. curfew was declared in the county, schools were declared closed for Monday, and shelter was set up for those who need electricity for medical devices or heating.

Asked at a Sunday news conference if the substation attacks constitute domestic terrorism, Fields said such a determination would be under the purview of federal law enforcement.

The sheriff said the motive in the case was still unknown. Asked if there was any connection to a 7 p.m. LGBTQ+ drag show in the city of Southern Pines on Saturday, Fields said, "It is possible, yes."

"Anything is possible," he said. "But we haven’t been able to tie anything back to the drag show."

The headliner and host at the Sunrise Theater event, Naomi Dix, said in an interview that the show went on in candlelight Saturday after power ceased about 8:15 p.m.

She said she was unaware the outage might have had anything to do with the event until hearing news Saturday night that mentioned unconfirmed reports the outages may have been the result of an attempt to put the drag show in the dark.

"The show got a lot of heat from right-wing conservatives who did not want us there," Dix said.

The Fayetteville Observer reported Friday that the event, titled "Downtown Divas," was the subject of threats, criticism and unfounded allegations about the LGBTQ+ community and certain types of crime.

"This is nothing new to our community," Dix said.

Organizers and the venue carried on with planning but changed the age limit from all ages to 18 and older to keep children away from any possible protests, the publication said.

Earlier Saturday, hosts of a “Drag Queen Story Hour”-style event for children in Columbus, Ohio, pulled the plug because of what they described as the intimidating presence of right-wing demonstrators, some of whom carried long guns.

Such events, where people in drag tell gender-inclusive stories with characters of diverse backgrounds to young children, have been targeted for demonstrations by right-wing groups, including the Proud Boys.

The nation's power grid has also captured the imagination of right-wing extremists, some of whom believe it could be the lynchpin for radical political change.

Brian Levin, director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, said in February that power facilities and other infrastructure have long been on the attack wish list of white supremacists who desire American "destabilization."


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05 Dec 2022, 3:05 pm

https://www.rawstory.com/emily-grace-rainey/

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A right-wing activist was investigated over a cryptic social media post claiming to know about the cause of a mass power outage in central North Carolina.

Emily Grace Rainey, a former U.S. Army psychological operations officer, posted about the outages that left nearly 40,000 customers without power, but Moore County sheriff Ronnie Fields told WRAL-TV that he prayed with her and determined her claims were not credible.

"Yes, we had to go and interview this young lady and have a word of prayer with her, but it turned out to be nothing," Fields said.

The sheriff asked the public not to post false or unverified claims about the outage, which was caused by gunshots at Duke Energy substations, because he said that took time away from their investigation.

“The power is out in Moore County and I know why," claimed Rainey, who had urged her Facebook followers to contact the sponsors drag show scheduled in Southern Pines.

Rainey, who claims to be the head of the conservative Moore County Citizens for Freedom, confirmed that sheriff's deputies had questioned her about the posts and suggested the outages were connected to the drag show.

Rainey resigned from her commission as an officer in October 2021 following a U.S. Army investigation into her involvement in leading a group from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., for a rally that led to the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection.

She was charged in with injury to personal property after she removed yellow tape covering up playground equipment during the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic.

OMG SMH

Power outage causes spike in break-ins, closed schools and curfew in Moore County
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The power outage in Moore County has triggered a State of Emergency for the population – with ripple effects including a spike in crime, families struggling to stay warm and even a curfew running from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Schools are closed Monday and officials are urging residents to stay off the roads.

Southern Pines dealt with multiple breaking and entering incidents overnight, including a break-in at the Dollar General and an attempted break-in at a gun store, according to Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields.

"It's scary. We're facing things today that I'd never in my lifetime thought we'd be facing," said Fields. "The unrest across our nation. And when things like this start happening, as a law enforcement officer you've sworn an oath to protect the citizens here. It's very scary. I don't sleep very good at night, and I won't until this individual is put in custody and held accountable."

Chris Thompson said it's tough keeping his family warm in his home in Carthage.
“It is cold,” said Thompson. “We have a six-month-old baby in the house. We are trying to get heat for her now. I don’t know.”

Thompson said he knows he is not alone – and worries about his neighbors.
“People need power in their lives, especially for medical needs," said Thompson. "I don’t know, it has really made me mad.”

In Moore County, traffic lights are dark at intersections, and stores and restaurants were forced to close, making it difficult to find basics, like food and fuel.

Fields said the person or people responsible knew what they were doing. He was emotional about the far-reaching impacts this has on residents.
"We're just getting over COVID and now this," said Fields. "It's going to hurt the restaurants and the businesses and stuff."


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06 Dec 2022, 9:23 am

Why the power grid is an ‘attractive target’ for attacks

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The motivation behind an attack on the electrical grid in a North Carolina county remains a mystery.

But the method – apparently coordinated attacks on multiple substations – exploits a vulnerability that has long been a source of concern for authorities warning about domestic terrorism.

Just last week the Department of Homeland Security renewed a national bulletin to warn of attacks on critical infrastructure.

CNN’s chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst John Miller said this type of attack has long been feared.

The American electrical grid is decentralized and controlled by a hybrid of public and private entities.

“The challenge is most of these places are outdoors, most are in remote areas and most of them are available for attack from a long distance,” Miller said on “CNN This Morning.”

He also noted there has been an uptick in chatter among various anti-government and ecoterrorist groups who consider attacks on the electrical infrastructure as a way to create chaos in the US

In particular, Miller said right wing neo-Nazi groups have suggested creating a chain reaction of attacks to systematically take down the power grid.

“Their theory is that if you identify the key nodes and you knock out one and they divert power to the next one, and you knock out the next one and the next one, a domino effect can actually start to topple the national grid and plunge the nation into darkness and chaos,” Miller said.

It’s obviously not clear if this North Carolina attack is anything along those lines, but the Department of Homeland Security has been warning about such attacks for some time.

Sniper fire hit a Silicon Valley substation in April 2013, when 150 rounds from an assault rifle took out 17 transformers. Workers rerouted power in that case, but repairs to the transformers took nearly a month.

Miller said that after that incident, power companies and the government undertook a systemic review of grid security and made changes to add more cameras and motion sensors.

In January 2022, CNN’s Geneva Sands reported on a DHS memo about potential electrical grid threats from extremist groups angry at the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Violent extremist groups have identified the electrical grid as a “particularly attractive target,” according to the intelligence bulletin, and have drawn up specific plans.

In October 2020, the memo noted, White supremacists in Idaho were charged with conspiracy for trying to damage transformers in that area.

Also, in May 2020 the government charged followers of the Boogaloo movement, which believes there is a civil war coming, for allegedly conspiring to attack a substation in Las Vegas. Their larger goal was to incite riots and violence.

Unsophisticated small-scale attacks are unlikely to cause the kind of large-scale meltdown that anti-government plotters envision, but they are likely to cause substantial harm and expensive damage – which is precisely what’s happening in Moore County.

Juliette Kayyem, a CNN analyst and the former assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at DHS, said on CNN’s “The Lead” that investigators are probably looking at three possible scenarios:

Foreign attack. She said this seems unlikely, since Moore County is a rural area and not the expected target for a foreign actor.

Hate crime or domestic terrorism. She noted the lights went out at the drag show, which was organized by a LGBTQ group, just as it began.

Insider threat. Kayyem noted the knowledge it would take to disable the substations could be a clue.

“You don’t just drive by these places and know where to shoot,” she said. “(Investigators) will be looking at the potential there was either casing or someone who knew the area, the facilities and knew where to shoot. These aren’t drive-by incidents,” she said.

underlining=mine:

It has noted that Ft. Bragg is located in the adjacent county to Moore which means there are people who know how to do this within easy driving range.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 06 Dec 2022, 9:46 am, edited 4 times in total.

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06 Dec 2022, 9:27 am

this seems like a trend to me.



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06 Dec 2022, 12:08 pm

Either the shooters were lucky, the utility is inept, or the shooters knew exactly which two substations to take out and render power restoration by merely rerouting the power via different lines and different substations a no-go.


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06 Dec 2022, 2:17 pm

Our small substation went out once but it was a snake that crawled in somehow and shorted it out.


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06 Dec 2022, 4:56 pm

'Sitting ducks’: Moore County attack leaves a community feeling vulnerable

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When the lights went out in Moore County, no one knew what had happened or why. There was no warning, no flicker — one minute the lights were on, and the next, everyone was plunged into darkness. Residents looked out their windows to see their entire street cloaked in shadows. “It was like, all of a sudden, someone flipped a switch on all of the electricity,” Helen Probst Mills, who lives in Pinehurst, said.

There’s a certain level of vulnerability in knowing that life can be upended at any moment by someone determined enough to inflict mass harm or chaos

The streets of downtown Southern Pines are quiet and empty, save for the occasional whir of a generator. But just down the road, dozens of people gathered Monday afternoon at Red’s Corner, a local food truck lot and beer garden. People chatted over beers and warm meals, circling around electric fire pits and heat lamps for warmth. A local musician played 80s hits on his guitar. In line for the bar, voices overlapped: “Do y’all have power?” “Did you see we were on MSNBC this morning?”

Word-of-mouth has been the primary way for neighbors to find out what’s going on. Moore County residents aren’t just unplugged from electricity — they’re unplugged from information, too. There’s no internet, and spotty cell service makes it difficult to do more than call or text — if that — which has only added to the sense of fear and confusion. Talk on social media immediately fueled speculation that the attack was connected to a drag show held Saturday night at the Sunrise Theater in Southern Pines. Far-right activists threatened show organizers in the days and weeks leading up to the event and staged a protest outside the theater, which was closely monitored by police Saturday. Part of that speculation stems from statements made on Facebook by Emily Grace Rainey, a local right-wing activist who helped organize opposition to the drag show. Rainey posted Saturday night that “The power is out in Moore County and I know why.”

“The lack of official communication has set the rumor mill on fire,” Mills told me. The Village of Pinehurst typically delivers emergency notifications to residents via robocall, Mills said, but the service did not appear to be working in the immediate aftermath of the attack

Lindsay O’Reilly, who was attending the drag show when the power went out, said she was only able to find out what had happened from police who were stationed outside the theater for the show. At first, she thought the power outage was part of the act, but her concern grew once she realized it wasn’t. It took a little while for officials to confirm that the substations had been intentionally “vandalized,” and even days later, residents still have trouble getting information. Press conferences held by the sheriff and other officials have been informative, but most people don’t have the bandwidth to stream them. Since the power went out, O’Reilly hasn’t even been able to receive text messages on her farm.

The attack has left people in Moore County — which has a population of a little more than 100,000 people — scared and stunned. Residents described it as “infuriating” and “incredibly unsettling” and said the community was “on edge.”

“I mean, what if they had decided to target our water, or our gas?” someone asked. “Were we just sitting ducks?”

n order for an act to meet the FBI’s definition of terrorism, it must occur in pursuit of some ideological or political objective. And without knowing who did this or why, we can’t say for sure if that’s the case. But it certainly has instilled a sense of terror — and not just for the people who live there. “It’s just a phenomenon we’re not accustomed to in this country, someone attacking our backbone infrastructure,” state Sen. Tom McInnis, whose district includes Moore County, told me. “The person who did this, I’m sure they’ve got some connections with the community. They’re punishing their own folks, innocent folks who don’t have a dog in the fight.” Whatever the precise motive might be, the attack has unsettled a community that doesn’t understand why one of its members might attack everyone else this way. It’s also unsettled people near and far who wonder if this incident is not only an attack on infrastructure, but another attack on our way of life during an era in which so much seems under threat.


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07 Dec 2022, 4:54 am

what kind of crazy would do a thing like this? they may well have cut off their own power in the process. not very smart.



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07 Dec 2022, 5:58 am

I've got Paladin Press books from the 80s or earlier pointing out this exact vulnerability as a soft target with potentially massive impact, it's a very old idea that someone seems to rediscover every so many years. Also, this is part of how a even a small subset of the population could bring the cities to their knees, just FYI.


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07 Dec 2022, 10:58 am

Dox47 wrote:
I've got Paladin Press books from the 80s or earlier pointing out this exact vulnerability as a soft target with potentially massive impact, it's a very old idea that someone seems to rediscover every so many years. Also, this is part of how a even a small subset of the population could bring the cities to their knees, just FYI.

..and there's a reason why the FBI has identified far right wing extremists as the biggest domestic terror threats to the USA. Just saying.. there are more people in the extreme right of politics who have a propensity for violence, domestic terrorism etc than any other group. Not exactly good ol' boys I'd want to be associated with in the least.

Would't surprise me much if it did turn out to be some fringe right nutter that got his panties all in a bunch after being wound up by the likes of tucker carlson and ben shapiro and the rest of the right wing media personalities that have decided to run a series of broadcasts that should be called "Tell me you've never been to a drag show without telling me you've never been to a drag show." (I've listened to a couple of these vids and these guys have no idea what drag shows are and are not about. Literally. Dead serious.)


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07 Dec 2022, 11:03 am

Shows how fragile modern society is.

A hundred and twenty years ago if you wanted to plunge a city into darkness you had to... break and enter every single home and business and knock over their kerosine lamps, and snuff out their candles. Now you just hafta shoot up a substation with an AR 15.

Our homegrown terrorists are smarter than those foreigners like Ben Ladin in how to...defeat their own country!



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07 Dec 2022, 2:57 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
Shows how fragile modern society is.


Indeed. It's like we're all in a giant spider web, and if you pluck one thread the whole thing falls apart. :skull:



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07 Dec 2022, 9:18 pm

Federal memo flags Washington, Oregon substation attacks similar to Moore County

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A federal memo warned substations in Washington and Oregon recently suffered physical attacks similar to the targeted gunfire toward the power grid over the weekend in Moore County, North Carolina, where tens of thousands still remain without electricity on Wednesday.

NewsNation obtained a federal law enforcement memo warning, "Power stations in Oregon and Washington have reported physical attacks on substations using handtools, arson, firearms, and metal chains possibly in response to an online call for attacks on critical infrastructure."

The memo said the aim is "to cause widespread power failures with the potential impact of social disruption and violent anti-government criminal activity."

On Nov. 11, sheriff’s deputies in Jones County, North Carolina, reported that criminal vandalism caused 12,000 people to lose power for days and that investigation remains ongoing.

No suspects have been identified or arrested in that case.


Power Returns and Curfew Remains; Reward Offered for Information
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With nearly everyone in Moore County expected to have power restored by Wednesday night, the county remains under a state of emergency and under the curfew that comes with the declaration for one more night.

At Wednesday’s press briefing, Moore County Public Safety Director Brian Phillips said that the curfew, along with the state of emergency signed by the county commissioners on Sunday, expires at 5 a.m. Thursday morning. The emergency shelter in the Moore County Sports Complex in Carthage will remain open until noon Thursday.

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields spoke at Wednesday’s briefing, providing no investigative update. The agency has stood steady in its stance that the release of portions of the investigations that come out could “jeopardize” any potential arrests.

“Before we go into talking about possible suspects and leads publicly before the person is even charged or arrested, we could jeopardize being able to hold them accountable,” Fields said. “We ask all our citizens here in Moore County to please be patient with us.”

Jeff Brooks, a spokesman for Duke Energy, said that the two attacks are expected to have happened less than an hour apart on Saturday night. The order that the Carthage and West End substations were hit by firearm attacks was not stated.

“There was a small gap of time between the outages of less than an hour, but beyond that and correlating that to gunfire or anything like that, I would not want to try and speculate,” Brooks said.

Duke Energy ramped up a security presence locally in recent days to protect the equipment being restored, and has plans moving forward to future increase security measures at many of its other infrastructure sites.

A $75,000 reward is being offered for information “leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible” of the sabotage of two electricity substations that upended life for much of Moore County on Saturday.

The money is being put up by the state, the county and Duke Energy, according to a news release from Gov. Roy Cooper. Individuals with information about the case should call the Moore County Sheriff’s Office at 910-947-4444 or the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 1-800-CALL FBI.

The two substations, which are located about 10 miles apart, suffered extensive damage after being shot at on Saturday evening.


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Last edited by ASPartOfMe on 07 Dec 2022, 9:23 pm, edited 3 times in total.