Nearly 35,000 residents of Moore County, North Carolina, are still without power after vandals destroyed two substations with guns on Sunday.
The incident is being investigated by federal, local, and state agencies, and many leaders are declaring it a premeditated attack.
“Some infrastructure has been attacked,” US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said Monday. “It appears to have been intentional.”
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Mayorkas delivered a keynote speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies Monday afternoon, discussing cyberattacks on critical infrastructure and the convergence of national security and homeland security.
After his speech, which focused on how the roles of both agencies are overlapping and blurring, Wall Street Journal’s Vivian Salama asked the secretary several questions, including one on the recent attacks on infrastructure.
Mayorkas admitted the attack on the power grid and gave an update on the investigation.
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“We are working with energy companies and local communities to address the situation and influence the performance that reaches households in the targeted neighborhoods,” he said. “Here, the federal and local investigators are working very hand-in-hand with the Remediators, the private sector and local communities to provide a full suite of tools … to address the situation, to fix it, and to learn from it, with others communicate so we can be more resilient and prevent the next one from occurring.”
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On Monday, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper met with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, as well as Duke Energy officials in Moore County, to discuss the power outage.
“An attack like this on critical infrastructure is a serious, premeditated crime, and I expect state and federal agencies to thoroughly investigate and bring those responsible to justice,” Gov. Cooper said on Twitter Sunday.
Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields said Sunday that two substations were found to have extensive damage caused by multiple gunfire. As a result, there were power outages across the county, leaving over 45,000 customers without power.
On Monday, poweroutage.us reported that 34,359 customers were still without power.
Duke Electric said power may not be fully restored until Thursday.
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Rumors of the substation attacks made the rounds online, suggesting they were removed to prevent a drag show from taking place in Moore County.
An interested person took to social media and said they knew how the blackout happened. Fields said Sunday the person was questioned by law enforcement officials and the information she provided was debunked.