Work mishap leaves businesses powerless

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A power outage that left a large portion of Brookway Boulevardin the dark on Sunday was caused by a construction accident behindthe Lincoln Inn and Suites, Southwest Mississippi Electric PowerAssociation officials said Monday.

Southwest Mississippi EPA Personnel and Public RelationsCoordinator Azalea Knight said a contractor was cleaning behind themotel when an apparatus hit a wire and broke a three-phase polearound 1 p.m.

“The breaking of the pole caused a fault all the way to thesubstation, cutting power to Brookway Boulevard,” she said.

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Brookhaven Police officers directed traffic until four-way stopsigns could be put up at the major intersections on Brookway, asstreet lights were knocked out from around the BrookhavenStreet/Brookway Boulevard interection to Home Depot and BrookhavenHonda, as well as the businesses on the west side of Interstate55.

Many local restaurants reported customers leaving because ofincreased wait times and lack of air conditioning, as well asdifficulties in processing orders. Other businesses said they hadno choice but to just wait out the outage.

Some local businesses were not affected, since they do not dobusiness on Sunday. A worker who answered the phone at BrookhavenHonda said their employees were not present during the outage sincethe store was not open.

Workers at El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant had to tally ticketsby hand, and like other local restaurants, lunchtime customers leftwhen they found out there was no power in the building.

In addition, local businesses were without power for a littleover an hour, Knight said. Crews worked on the site until around 7p.m., and were back at work Monday morning as well. Business ownersand workers said minor issues did continue throughout the day,however.

“I do know that after 4 p.m. we had as many as four, five, oreven six power surges that went on for about 10 seconds or so, thenthe lights would come back on,” Broma’s Restaurant manager BobHummel said.

Knight said while workers found the trouble quickly, the heatmade its repairs a little more difficult, which could be a causefor the surges.

“With the excessive heat and strain on the breakers in thesubstation, load transfers had to be made,” Knight said. “Thetransferring of loads took longer than expected due to the loadbecause of the heat.”

Crews were on the scene early Monday to replace the broken poleand apparatus, and to transfer power loads back to their originalpositions before the accident. Crews said the transformer itselfwas not damaged.

Knight said Southwest Mississippi EPA is grateful to the manycustomers affected by the outage.

“We would like to thank our customers for their patience andunderstanding during these repairs and this unexpected outage,” shesaid.