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Lightning powers down the village

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Around 6:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 5, the entire village’s electric grid went dim, and then at 8:30 a.m. the village went dark. The howling storms the night before had “fried” the closer, or giant circuit breaker, on the DP&L substation on Snypp Road and shut down most of the village and at least a mile of surrounding area for about five hours, according to Village electric and water supervisor Kelly Fox.

While DP&L assessed the problem and then rerouted the village’s power to a temporary backup circuit until the substation could be repaired, Village crew erected stop signs at intersections where electric traffic signals were out, and Village police performed welfare checks on Friends Care Community facilities and other individual residents whose health needs required a generator for backup power.

Though power was only down until 1:20 p.m., many downtown businesses, such as Tom’s Market, U.S. Bank, the Wind’s Cafe and the post office were without registers and computers and chose to close for part of the day. With food at imminent risk of spoiling, Tom’s employees spread their leftover ice on the meat and dairy sections throughout the store, and Current Cuisine assembled a large supply of sandwiches for people desperate for a snack. Production facilities at YSI, Morris Bean, Vernay and the Antioch Company sent first shift employees home for the day.

The so-called “brown out” between 6:30 and 8:30 a.m., according to Fox, was caused by the partially damaged recloser that had been struck by lightning but still had one wire to carry part of the current, until it too gave out. Power was completely restored by the afternoon, but it was the longest period in many years that the village had gone without power, Fox said.

“Mother Nature tends to come along and let us know she’s still in charge,” he said.

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