Electrical outage leaves downtown dark - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Electrical outage leaves downtown dark

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email


ALBANY, GA (WALB) –  A downtown Albany power outage today trapped people in elevators and forced firefighters to carry disabled people down flights of stairs.

After storms caused power outages Monday afternoon, City crews were trimming trees today hoping to avoid future problems. During that work, a limb fell on a primary line causing the outages on Jefferson Street, South Madison Street, and Gordon Avenue.
Firefighters were called to four different Albany businesses for fire alarms triggered by the outages. Many described it as an unnerving experience when they realized the lights were out and they could smell smoke in the buildings.

City employees packed the lobby of the Microbusiness Enterprise Center while firefighters worked to free two people trapped in the elevator near the second floor.

"The elevator company when they arrived on scene, they just brought the cab back down to the first floor and were able to take them out on the first floor," said Bat. Chief Kelly Harcrow of the Albany Fire Department.    

Slightly shaken from the ordeal the woman didn't want to talk but employees say the lights flickered several times before the building went dark and then they smelled smoke.

"It's almost like an electrical, if you ever smelled an electrical fire, wires burning.  It's almost like a rubbery smell, like rubber burning," said Laurence Cargile of the Albany Weatherization Program.

Firefighters made a sweep through the building.  They found Marjorie Johnson who was in her wheelchair in the building taking care of some business.  They carried her down several flights of stairs. "I was scared, more scared than anything," she said.

Firefighters also responded to Carquest Auto Care for a similar electrical smell and the School Administration Building.  Someone was also trapped in the elevator at the Albany Herald.  The problem was caused by city crews doing work to try to avoid problems.

"It's summertime in Albany, Georgia and I think the city's trying to get some trees out of the way so we don't have trees falling limbs on their own during these wind storms and rain storms we've been having every afternoon," said Lorie Farkas, WG&L Assistant General Manager.

With power restored in 45 minutes they apologized for the chaos. "We are sorry for any inconvenience that our customers had but we're glad we resolved it as quickly as we did," said Farkas.

Firefighters stayed at several of the businesses to make sure once the power was restored there weren't any additional problems.

Water, Gas, and Light crews had to fix additional problems at one business, but there was no fire at any of the businesses. The outage also created a traffic jam, knocking out power to several traffic lights during the lunchtime rush and left businesses without the means to do business.

An officer at Oglethorpe Boulevard and Front Street used his whistle to control the sea of traffic that surrounded him, while officers at Jackson and Oglethorpe also helped to control the rush. 

At some intersections like Jackson and Broad, motorists had to fend for themselves and watch out for others.  At Elements Coffee, the power outage interrupted the lunch time rush and business altogether stopped at Service Loan and Income Tax.

"Right now it's like an oven in here, it's very hot," said Parla Davis Service of Loan & Income Tax.  "We can't do any loans so that means we can't make any money.  We need the city to get the utilities back on as soon as possible."

The registers at Elements Coffee Shop are linked to a backup system so they continued with limited business.  Some customers didn't seem to mind finishing their lunch in the dark.


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