ND - Parts of the Dickinson in the dark

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A power failure left customers in the dark and restaurants scrambling to prepare for lunch Wednesday morning.

Henry Ford of Montana-Dakota Utilities Company said, "We have determined three underground cables failed. At the same time, it caused two transformers to fail."

The failure started about 10 a.m. and lasted about 45 minutes for the businesses impacted along Highway 22 north of the Interstate.

Residences and businesses east of Sims Street and north of the interstate were without power into the afternoon hours.

Ford said MDU crews determined the cable failure was between First and Second Avenues East along 14th Street East. The cables in that area are 15 to 20 years old. Once the crews pinpoint the faulty cables and dig them up, they'll see if they can tell if something damaged the cables, Ford added.

Although 14th Street has been under construction, Ford did not think that was related to the power failure. The problem did not appear to be in a construction area.

However, the unusually lengthy power outage impacted some businesses.

Managers at Wal-Mart and Dan's Super Market said they helped customers cope as best they could.

Sean Sundberg, Wal-Mart assistant manager, said, "We had very minimal emergency lighting."

They used flashlights at the check-out counters when customers made purchases.

Sundberg said without their public address system working, staff members walked through the store informing the 40 or so employees and customers of the problem. Customers were told they could stay if they wanted, but no new customers were allowed into the store for safety reasons.

Jerry Binstock, Dan's Super Market retail sales manager, said his store also stopped admitting customers and tried to take care of customers in the store.

The auxiliary lights allowed people to see in the store, but the tills were not useable.

Binstock said employees got prices for products from the shelves, listed the items on paper and used calculators to tally bills.

"We were lucky it was early in the morning," Binstock said, when few shoppers were in the store.

"Customers were patient and understanding," he added.


-- Doris (reaper1@mindspring.com), July 20, 2000



-- Christopher Owen (Chris@Chris.com), July 20, 2000.

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