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Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Port Blackout Costly

Lakeside resort village businesses hit hard.

By PETER GEIGEN-MILLER, Free Press Reporter

A blown main power transformer Sunday triggered a marathon power blackout in Port Stanley and cost businesses in the lakeside resort community tens of thousands of dollars in lost revenue.

The power went out about 8 p.m. Sunday and stayed out until it began being restored in stages yesterday afternoon. Some residents were without power for nearly 20 hours.

The cut forced businesses such as the Knechtel food market to discard thousands of dollars in products ruined by the prolonged thaw.

The trouble was caused by an internal short in the transformer at the village's main power substation, said Lloyd Perrin, co-ordinator of physical services for the municipality of Central Elgin.

A refurbished transformer, purchased in Nanticoke, had to be trucked in to replace the damaged one, Perrin said.

Bruce Mungar, a Central Elgin councillor representing Port Stanley, said the lights at his home blinked out at 8:01 p.m. Other people in the immediate area suffered brownouts or partial power losses until the interruption became total a short time later, he said.

For Donna Deans, who owns Broderick's Ice Cream Parlour, the power loss brought an early closing on a busy summer evening.

"We served for as long as we could last (Sunday) night, but then it got too dark to see what we were doing," she said .

By late yesterday morning, with the store still closed, she was worrying about the fate of dozens of tubs of ice cream sitting in her freezers. With the power back on, she said, it would take time to determine if the ice cream had been damaged.

At Mackie's, a beachside restaurant, Greg Lale gazed out over a crowded beach and lamented the loss of trade.

"We have gas fryers and and grills so we could cook but we don't have electricity to run our exhaust system so we can't turn anything on or it gets awful bloody hot in here in a hurry," he said.

He expects it would have been a busy day for the restaurant without the power loss. "The parking lots are full and there are a lot of people on the beach, so we're missing out."

Mackie's managed to save the milk and other products in its coolers, thanks to an assist from the Green Roof restaurant, which didn't lose its power.

"They let us put stuff in their coolers, so thanks to their generosity we've been able to save most of our product," Lale said.

He's grateful the power cut came this weekend rather than during the Canada Day holiday next weekend. "It would be really nasty if it happened during the holiday weekend," he said.

Another business that retained power was the Bridge Dining Lounge.

James McClenaghan said the restaurant probably tripled its usual morning business yesterday as people arrived in droves for breakfast or cups of coffee they couldn't prepare at home.

For seven-year-old Emily Morgan, the blackout meant a quick trip to a relative's home in St. Thomas for medical treatment she requires twice daily.

Emily has cystic fibrosis and her medication is administered through a mask that requires electricity.

-- (, June 27, 2000

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