Power Loss, Minor Inconvenience to Communities

Photos by Russ Baldwin

Wednesday night’s power outage disrupted evening plans for most residents across southeastern Colorado. Breaker failure is attributed to the loss of four Xcel transmission lines which caused power outages between Canon City and Kansas as well as from Pueblo to the New Mexico border.

This reporter placed a phone call to Reyman’s Grocery in Holly and learned that the generator was working and lights were on in the eastern Prowers County community. The town of Holly had planned a July 20, 3am test to see how well the generator could supply power, but got their answer about a week early. The Granada Town board cancelled their planned monthly meeting until the fourth Wednesday of the month.

Many stores closed early, to the disappointment of numerous shoppers in Lamar. Adele, the assistant general manager of Wal-Mart said,”The store is closed, but employees are still at work, taking care of the produce department.” Patrons were seen leaving Safeway with grocery bags; so apparently, some power was available in some spots. Other stores and fast food restaurants were doing limited business. The bars stayed open as well, as most front doors were open to let in a little light and air. Alco had employees on hand, but was closed to customers.

Area travelers got an electronic-related shock when they found that the gas pumps weren’t pumping. Some people just parked their cars, sitting on empty, until the power was restored. There was no place they could drive to, so better to wait, instead of driving to the next town, only to run out of fuel in the middle of the plains. A group of friends were eating sandwiches at the Pit Stop, enjoying each other’s company. Their plans for dining out were altered from a hot meal to cold cuts. A lone Lamar Police Officer stood watch at the intersection of North Main and Maple Street, directing traffic. For some reason, some street lights were fully functional in some parts of the city, and others were as blank as a computer screen. Some food crews were hanging around for a while to see if power would be restored and customers would drive in. After a brief wait while they cleaned the kitchen, the crew at BJ’s Burger and Beverage took a brief time out to wave at the camera before calling it a night. For many area residents, the evening meal was mostly cooked over the grill. No microwave burritos were on the menu for the evening.

The ballparks in Lamar were moderately busy; fouls, hits and errors were still being committed, but not registered on the scoreboard. A lot of folks were just sitting on their front or back porch, waiting for the lights to come back on. Lights were on at the Prowers Medical Center emergency room. A quick visit showed no calls for service, and everything was running smoothly. Several months ago, the PMC board of directors had initiated some repairs and upgrades to the hospital’s main generator.

The local fire department and emergency crews drew some looks from passers-by as numerous fire trucks and vehicles were parked at the intersection of East Olive and South Second Street. Pat Leonard, the deputy fire chief explained that a practice session had been planned for safety and rescue in dark and smoky conditions. They were using two deserted houses at the end of the street. Leonard said the earlier afternoon outage caused only one problem. A couple got caught in a stalled elevator at the Holiday Inn Express, but the power was back on by the time the fire department responded.

Power out at around 5:15…power back on around 8:20pm. Time to reset the clocks and restart the air conditioning. Give thought though…how well would your family make do if the power was out for a day or a week; if you were a Katrina hurricane or Japan earthquake survivor. How prepared would you be to live a night like last night for the next three months. Food for thought.

By Russ Baldwin


Filed Under: BusinesscommunityEconomyEnergyFeaturedGranadaHollyPublic SafetyRecreationUtilitiesWiley


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