IA - W.B.power outage spoils food, slows traffic

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By Gretchen Cleland The Hawk Eye

WEST BURLINGTON -- A power outage here Saturday morning left businesses and homeowners in the dark, some for more than three hours.

John Ruff, Alliant Energy communications manager, said the outage left about 2,000 customers without power for anywhere from two to 2 1/2 hours. The power went out at about 7 a.m.

The cause of the outage was two overloaded breakers in the Agency Street substation. Ruff said the breakers are much like a breaker in a home -- when you overload them, a switch is tripped and the breaker is cut.

"The breakers are designed to trip a couple of times with no problems," Ruff said. "But, if there's a fault along the line, the breakers trip out."

Ruff said Alliant does not yet know what caused the fault in the breakers, but the company has crews at the station who are looking into it. He said there also were a few customers in the West Burlington area with power outages unrelated to the Agency Street breakers, but rather the result of a fault in an underground wire. Ruff said the underground wire may have to be dug up and repaired.

Alliant rerouted power to get their customers back on line Saturday and Ruff said the shortest outage lasted only a little more than an hour, while the longest was more than three hours. Those homes and businesses affected by the underground outage may have been out longer.

Wal-Mart Supercenter on Agency Street may have been one of those affected by the underground outage. Mitch Lippert, Wal-Mart co-manager, said the store was without power from 7 to 11:30 a.m. Lippert said employees at the store were scrambling to save frozen and refrigerated goods from spoiling.

"It was kind of hairy this morning trying to make sure perishable items were kept fresh," Lippert said. "But, we have a specific disaster plan and it was followed to a tee."

Lippert said perishable items were iced, coolers covered to keep temperatures at the right level and refrigerated trailers were called in immediately. The store did lose some items, but Lippert said the employees did a nice job of saving what they could.

"I am very proud of our people," he said. "Everyone pitched in and helped out."

Wal-Mart was closed during the outage but finally managed to open its doors at 12:30 p.m. Lippert said while sales definitely will be affected by the delay in opening, it almost seemed as if people were just waiting to shop when they did open.

"We definitely lost some time, but we've been extra busy since then," Lippert said Saturday evening.

West Burlington police also were busy due to the outage. Officers were out directing traffic at intersections where traffic signals had failed.


-- Doris (reaper@pacifier.com), November 13, 2000


Lippert said employees at the store were
scrambling to save frozen and refrigerated
goods from spoiling.

What happened to their Y2K back-up generators.

-- spider (spider0@usa.net), November 13, 2000.

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