The Fayetteville Road, Roberts Avenue, and Elizabethtown Road areas were affected until power could be temporarily re-routed, according to Sharon Hunt, assistant to the the city manager. It was unclear whether the Progress Energy line, which feeds power to the city, had been repaired this morning. The lights went out about 2 p.m. on Tuesday, and flickered back on about 3 p.m.
According to Bobby Oliver of the Allenton Volunteer Fire Department, the power was knocked out when a truck’s metal bucket hit the power line while unloading brush for Meekins, Lloyd & Sons, an auction house just east of Lumberton on N.C. 211. A surge of electricity from the wire ran through the truck, blew out its front tires and created a brush fire in a grass field used for parking.
Stacey Johnson, an employee with the auction company, said the truck driver, Danny Cox of M-3 Transportation of Lumberton, was picked up by an ambulance after complaining of chest and arm pain. A spokeswoman at Southeastern Regional Medical Center said Cox was treated and released.
Johnson said he was walking the yard of the business when he heard a boom from across the road.
“I looked up and saw smoke, and then a flash that was almost as big as the truck,” Johnson said. “Then, I saw him running through the smoke … I radioed in to the office for them to call 911.”
Lumberton police got busy directing traffic through stoplights that were out in more than half of Lumberton, according to police Capt. Johnny Barnes.
“Everybody that was working had to get out, probably 15 people or more,” Barnes said.
Barnes said no accidents occurred as a result of the stoplights being disabled.
Teresa McQueen, store manager of Bojangles’ on Roberts Avenue, said the restaurant may have lost as much as $500 during the outage..
“We lost a lot of food,” she said. “The power was out so we had no way of cooking things, and we also may have lost a lot of customers.”
Wayne Lewis, manager of O’Reilly’s Auto Parts on Roberts Avenue, said the business was disrupted for a lot longer than the outage.
“We couldn’t operate because our electric catalogue is powered by electricity, then it took us two to three hours for our computer systems to come back up … it was pretty bad in here,” Lewis said.
Lewis said that employees tried to help their customers with a manual catalogue, but many didn’t have the time.
“Customers have become so accustomed to the fast-paced atmosphere of the electronic system that when it comes to looking it up in a catalogue, they don’t want to wait,” he said.
The outage led to an early day for students at Lumberton High School. The air conditioning shut off at 2 p.m., and Principal Stephen Gaskins said he began calling bus drivers at 2:2o p.m. Students who ride buses were dismissed as soon as the drivers arrived. Other students were dismissed at 2:30 p.m.
“The staff did a great job handling the strange and unusual circumstance,” Gaskins said.
The Robesonian had already published Tuesday’s paper when the lights went out, but publication of several other newspapers that are produced at the Roberts Avenue business was delayed.