AEP restores power

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 14, 2008

It wasn’t how Peddler’s Home Cooking Restaurant manager expected to spend a Saturday. Usually Cindy Barnes is used to seeing the food go out of the kitchen onto the restaurant tables.

But a massive power outage that swept over Ironton Saturday changed all that.

When the power went out

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around 1:40 p.m. Saturday, there were 15 in the Third Street restaurant. Fortunately, there was battery backup so Barnes could ring those customers out.

But what about all that food in freezers, refrigerators and walk-in coolers?

As the power outage continued through the afternoon with no seeming end in sight, Barnes was looking at about $40,000 worth of food that could go bad.

So she contacted the sales rep of Gordon Food Services, that has a distribution center in Charleston, W.Va., the restaurant’s food supplier.

Gordon immediately sent a refrigerator-freezer trailer down from Milton, W.Va. From 9 until 11 that night Barnes, her employees and some friends loaded all the food out of the kitchen onto the trailer.

“Gordon’s, out of the kindness of their heart,” donated the trailer at no cost to the restaurant,” Barnes said.

After Peddler’s got the food in, the trailer was moved over to the Rax parking lot where the gang helped that restaurant load its food onto the truck, where it sat until the next evening.

Then on Sunday evening, after the power came back on, the Peddler’s crew spent the next 2 and a half hours putting it all back.

“It was a hassle. We were here late Saturday night and got reopened at 10 p.m. Sunday,” Barnes said.

But no food was lost.

A mobile unit installed over the weekend got power restored for 3,800 American Electric Power customers in Ironton on Sunday.

Takeysha Cheney, an AEP spokesperson, said the citywide power outage hit around 1 p.m. Saturday when a transformer failed. All customers were back on line by 6 p.m. Sunday.

The company is still unsure what caused the failure, whether it was age or another factor.

“We have not replaced the transformer yet,” she said. “We have a mobile unit that we brought in to serve customers until we can replace the transformer. That will hopefully happen sometime soon. Those mobile units are typically brought in and are sufficient for a good period of time to serve customers until we are able to replace the transformer.”

Approximately 30 AEP employees were called in on the outage, Cheney said. There were about 15 working in the service center, nine linemen and the remainder at the Columbus-based dispatch center.

“With all of the rains and the weather so unpredictable, we have to be on call,” Cheney said. “We have a lot of challenges. Don’t know on average if this (summer) is more typical. It is a very unpredictable time of year. The rains and storms … there is greater potential for tree limbs to be down.”