CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Power is finally restored to the Outer Banks, a week after businesses were forced to shut down, and tourists forced out.
“We’re happy, we want them, some of them have been on pins and needles about when they can come back so I hope that they're ready to start their vacation!” said Leslie Lanier, a bookstore owner on Ocracoke.
After a week of massive outages on the Outer Banks, the lights are back on at Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands, ahead of schedule. Friday, tourists will be allowed to return, starting at noon.
This is the height of travel season, when the Outer Banks are filled with people. But for the last week, Lanier says Ocracoke was a ghost-town. It was so slow, she did what the tourists did - she left.
Usually this time of year, cars jam the two-lane roads with tourists driving off and onto Hatteras and Ocracoke Islands.
“The kind of traffic jam we had yesterday were Canada geese,” she said.
Lanier says, when the power went out last Thursday when construction crews accidently hit transmission lines, things were the opposite of busy on Ocracoke.
“Sometime that day, we found out that it could be one or two weeks or several weeks,” she said.
While generators were fired up for those living there - vacationers were ordered to evacuated.
“It was empty, completely empty, that doesn't even happen in December,” said Lanier, “Some people called it a zombie apocalypse”
With no business to be had - she closed up her “Books to Be Red” bookstore and traveled to Chapel Hill to visit her son. And during her time in the Triangle, she learned the power company restored electricity ahead of schedule. Now, she's anxious to return, to welcome everyone back.
"We want everybody in the states of Virginia, and North Carolina, wherever, to know we're open,” said Lanier.
Businesses say they lost thousands, every day the power was out. Lanier says she lost at least $11 thousand. Tomorrow, business owners and residents will learn how to file their losses as the county works on a plan to get them reimbursed. In the meantime, lawsuits have been filed against the construction company that caused the blackout.