Outage to continue into Thursday morning, AEP says in update – The Columbus Dispatch

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Update 8:55 p.m.:American Electric Power says electricity is expected to be restored by 5 a.m. Thursday to all Columbus-area customers impacted by the emergency outage —  about 19 hours earlier than first estimated. 

AEP reported Tuesday evening in a release that crews have made significant progress repairing damage to the transmission lines that bring energy to the Columbus area. The repairs will allow AEP to begin restoring power to substations and customers in the Columbus area beginning in the early morning hours Thursday, the Gahanna-based company said.

AEP previously estimated a restoration time of 11:59 p.m. Thursday for much of central Ohio. However, the utility has indicated it expects that its customers in some parts of Ohio may not have power restored until as late as Saturday.

Once power is restored to the Columbus area, AEP said it expects “the power grid in the Columbus area to operate as it normally would, even as temperatures rise. We will continue to monitor system performance throughout the day (Thursday) and provide any updates as needed.”

High temperatures in the mid- to upper-90s are expected Thursday along with the possibility of severe weather in the early evening hours, AEP noted. 

“We do not know what, if any, impacts the weather may bring, but we have crews ready to work on any outages that might occur,” AEP said. 

More than 230,000 American Electric Power customers were without power Tuesday and Wednesday after intentional outages were conducted to protect the power grid, including outages affecting more than 169,000 in the Columbus area, according to the AEP outage map.

Power outage: How long is food good in the fridge and freezer after a power outage?

Tens of thousands of Columbus-area residents faced a second day of power outages Wednesday as the area continues to experience a heatwave with temperatures climbing into the upper 90s.

AEP and other crews were working Wednesday to repair problems that forced the utility to cut off power to an unprecedented number of Columbus-area customers this week.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 135,000 AEP Ohio customers remained without power,  about 85,000 of them in central Ohio, down from a peak of 230,000 on Tuesday. 

Power was coming back on in some areas on Wednesday, while other areas were reporting power coming back — and then going off again.

Find a pool or splash zone near you: Where to go in Columbus to beat the hot Ohio weather and cool off

One of the hardest hit areas in Columbus is Morse Road near Easton Town Center with 3,330 customer outages. Other areas with large outages include:

  • 4,943 customer outages in the South Side between Groveport Road and Alum Creek Drive.
  • 2,513 customer outages on I-270 near Dublin-Granville Road on the North Side. 
  • 2,007 customer outages in the University District
  • 2,700 customer outages near Broad Street on the East Side
  • 2,759 customer outages on Fishinger Road on the West Side. 

It followed a flurry of storms and high winds that blew through the area, along with scorching temperatures — making dealing with the outages even more painful for affected area residents.

AEP says the decision to shut off power in some neighborhoods was done to keep outages from spreading and making it even harder and longer to restore power.

“It’s absolutely the last resort,” AEP spokesman Scott Blake of the decision to turn off power in neighborhoods. “It’s the last thing we want to do.’’ 

Power outage: How long is food good in the fridge and freezer after a power outage?

Heat wave: Columbus extends hours at select community centers, pools, splash pads due to heat wave

Central Ohio wasn’t alone in dealing with the issue. In Cincinnati, thousands were left without power after severe storms and strong winds hit the area Monday night, The Cincinnati Enquirer reported. 

NAACP demands answers from AEP in press conference

Pastor John Coats, second vice president of the Columbus NAACP, said they had sought answers from AEP as to why it seemed like many lower income and minority areas were being directly impacted, including the Linden and Driving Park areas.

He said it has harmed people from a health standpoint.

“There are others that are very vulnerable from a health standpoint of not having electricity,” Coats said. “And we question how they made the decision to shut down power to the central city.”

NAACP President Nana Watson said AEP had not answered requests for a conversation with the Columbus NAACP placed through city representatives. She said they have not seen or heard any outreach from AEP about how they were assisting people of color.

“It’s really insulting,” Watson said.

At the Driving Park pool, some residents expressed frustration that they weren’t being admitted to the pool. Around 3 p.m. on Wednesday, the pool was not admitting additional guests while the pool was scheduled to be closed, to reopen at 4:30 p.m.

Aisha Matthews, 38, of E. Long Street, said those in her household were without power. She said she was glad the city was opening up the pools, but expressed frustration with a $2 fee she would have to pay to reserve her spot in line when the pool began admitting new guests.

She also expressed frustration with the government’s priorities in ensuring the city had adequate infrastructure.

“It’s the capital of the state. We’re supposed to be the greatest city. We should be more prepared,” Matthews said. “We’re talking about guns in schools and we can’t even keep our infrastructure up to par?” 

Bernita Reese, director of Columbus Recreation and Parks, said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon that a cooling station has opened at Whetstone Community Center (3923 N High St.), as the Douglas Community Center (1250 Windsor Ave.) has lost power.

Columbus Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts urged residents at the press conference to stay hydrated and find relief from the sun. On Tuesday, she said, the number of people admitted to ER for heat related injuries nearly doubled compared to previous days.

She said many different types of people are at risk of heat exposure, including the elderly and people with underlying conditions.

“These cooling centers are open for you, for everyone in our community,” Roberts said.

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther noted that a majority of people have power in Columbus, and there are things they can do to help those without, like donating water, providing a cool place for neighbors or offering to drive someone to a cooling station. He also asked those with power to consider raising their thermostat temperature to lessen the load on the power grid.

At a Wednesday press conference at Driving Park public pool, Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther said his own power has continued to fluctuate as AEP works to restore power. He said city officials have been monitoring the situation and continue to maintain contact with AEP about power restorations.

Ginther said his message to AEP is that the city needs power back as quickly as possible and the city was focusing on the restoration and sustainability of the grid. He added that accountability for the outage ultimately falls on AEP and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

“But we’re going to continue working with them to make sure we’re doing everything we can for the people of Columbus,” Ginther said. “We’re doing a lot of unprecedented things to deal with an unprecedented time.”

When asked at the press conference what he would say to people who may feel like minority communities were disproportionately affected by the outages, Ginther said the issue was affecting Columbus at-large and not one area specifically.

“Well, I’d look at the evidence and look at the data,” Ginther said. “I think folks have been hit throughout the community.”

Chris Hogue, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service said Columbus saw near record temperatures Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s high was 93 degrees, just one degree short of the record of 94 degrees. Meanwhile Wednesday’s high got up to 94 degrees, with a heat index of 105. The record for June 15 was set back in 1897 at 96 degrees.

Hogue said the heatwave is on its way out, with Thursday being the last day this week with temperatures in the 90s. 

“We have a cold front moving in the middle of the afternoon,” he said. “So, that will produce scattered thunderstorms along the front and then cooler air behind it for tomorrow evening and into the weekend.” 

Franklin County Dog Shelter’s power is back on following hundreds of ice, water and food donations from community members Tuesday afternoon. 

Thanks to the donations, the shelter didn’t lose a single dog to the heat, Kaye Perlinger, director of the Franklin County Dog Shelter said.  

“We were absolutely overwhelmed with support from this community,” she said. “Some of [these dogs] are only alive today because of the love of our community period.” 

The shelter lost power around 2:30 p.m. Tuesday. Staff thought the building might regain power soon after, but they couldn’t wait long. 

Generators were used in the shelter’s operating rooms to ensure the surgeries being performed at the time could be completed safely. Dogs in the shelter’s ICU were moved to air-conditioned vans and monitored.  

Around 3:30 p.m., Community Relations Officer Les Wilson posted to the shelter’s Facebook page that the shelter was without power and in need of ice to keep the dogs cool.  

“The first bag came within twenty minutes later,” he said. “After that it just kept coming in.” 

Donors brought in everything from bags of ice, water and towels, while some even ordered food delivered to the shelter for staff and volunteers.  

The AEP stayed in constant contact with the shelter, Persinger said, and donated ice and water for the dogs as well. The department of Agriculture dropped of generators that could power fans and AC units, along with extension cords and gas to keep the generators running. 

They had enough ice for each dog to have a bag in their kennel. Some laid on it, others chewed on the cubes and some even enjoyed cooling ice baths in donated kiddie pools. Staff also stacked ice bags in front of fans to cool down the kennels.  

Staff worked overnight to ensure the dogs were taken care of, including one rottweiler who was in critical condition Tuesday evening due to the heat.  

“He came through and happy to say he was out playing in the pool today,” Persinger said. “So, we’re still watching him, but he’s doing really well and there were no lives lost.” 

Most of the shelter’s services are closed until further notice to allow for clean up and time to ensure the power will stay on. However, Persinger said the shelter is open for redemption services for the rest of the week and hopes to be fully up and running by Saturday. 

Franklin County Sheriff Dallas Baldwin said some sheriff’s office substations are operating on generator power. Both jail facilities also have backup generators if they lose power. He said calls for service do tend to go up because of power outages and the heat.

He is also is asking for people to check on their neighbors, especially those with limited mobility or who may be older. 

“Call us if you need anything,” he said. It’s no bother.”

Chief Deputy Jim Gilbert is advising people not to leave children or pets in vehicles. Temperatures inside vehicles can rise 40-60 degrees within a 10 minute period, which can lead to serious injury or death. 

If animals are outdoors, make sure they have access to a shaded area and plenty of water. If possible, bring outdoor pets inside for periods of time to allow them the opportunity to cool off.

“They don’t have the option of taking their fur coats off.”

Sheriff’s office K-9 officers are taking precautions with those K-9s as well. Cruisers for the canine handlers have special technology that activates the lights, horn or siren and sends a text message to the deputy if the cruiser becomes too hot. 

He said deputies are happy to help however possible with heat-related calls, including providing residents with places they can go to get cooled off and referrals to partner agencies that can connect them with other resources. 

Folks who want to check if there’s an outage in their neighborhood or when the power is expected to come back on, you can visit the AEP Ohio website under the outages tab. AEP is also posting daily updates on the power outages and has tips for when you come across a downed power line. 

Purposefully shutting off the power to certain areas doesn’t meet the technical definition of a brownout.

Brownouts are when there is not enough electric generation and the grid isn’t operating at full capacity, according to PJM Interconnection, which oversees the flow of electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia, including all of Ohio. Customers could have electricity, but not what they would normally expect to have.

In this case, AEP is shutting off power temporarily to specific locations to ease constraints on power lines that it says could make outages worse.

 Several Columbus eateries closed due to power outage

6-1-Pho, located at 4386 N. High Street in Clintonville, closed Tuesday due to power outage and is still closed as of Wednesday. The Vietnamese restaurant said it’s meats and produce were not able to be saved and that it will need time to recover. 

Other restaurants closed in the city include: 

  • Pattycake Bakery, 3870 N. High St. in Clintonville, closed on Wednesday due to the power outage. The bakery said people who have custom orders would be contacted and apologized for the inconvenience.
  • Forbidden Root, 4080 Worth Ave. in Easton, said it would be closed for the remainder of the day on Wednesday. Parts of the Easton area were out of power on Tuesday and Wednesday, resulting in 614 Day events being canceled. 
  • Kolache Republic, 702 S. High St. in the Brewery District, announced on social media it would be closed Wednesday due to the power outage. 
  • Chapman’s Eat Market, 739 S. 3rd St. in German Village, closed on Tuesday due to the power outage and was still closed as of Wednesday. On social media the restaurant said it would reach out to customers who made reservations and apologized for the inconvenience. 
  • Hot Chicken Takeover locations in Easton, at 4198 Worth Ave, and Clintonville, at 4203 N High St, were closed as of Wednesday. The restaurant asked customers to visit locations at North Market, 59 Spruce St., And Westerville, 435 Polaris Pkwy., instead. 
  • Rusty Bucket locations at Easton, 4062 Gramercy St, and Clintonville, 4109 N. High St., were without power and closed on Tuesday, and were still closed as of Wednesday. The restaurant said it will update customers as they reopen. 
  • Flip Side Easton, 3945 Easton Station, closed on Tuesday due to its air conditioning being out, and remained closed on Wednesday due to its power being out. The restaurant said it will provide an update on Thursday.
  • Golden Donuts & Diner, 1928 Lockbourne Road, on the South Side has a sign in the front door saying it is closed due to no power.
  • The power is out at Seventh Son Brewing, 1101 N 4th St. in Italian Village as of Wednesday.
  • The Bier Stube, at 1479 N. High St. in the University District, is without power. The bar said it was told the power would not be back on until Thursday night.
  • La Chatelaine’s Upper Arlington location, at 1550 W Lane Ave, is without power. The restaurant directed customers to its Worthington and Dublin locations, at 627 High St. and 65 W. Bridge St., respectively.
  • Katalina’s second location in Clintonville, 3481 N. High St., is closed until further notice, according to the restaurant’s social media.
  • Harvest Pizzeria’s locations in the Brewery District, at 940 S. Front St., and Clintonville, at 2885 N. High St., are both closed.
  • The Crest, at 2855 Indianola Ave., closed early on Tuesday and remained closed on Wednesday due to the power outage. The restaurant said on social media that it hoped to reopen on Thursday.

Aaron Francis, 35, ran through the splashgrounds at Scioto Southland Community Center with his pitbull-boxer dog Bear. 

“It’s refreshing, for sure,” said Francis, a South Side resident. “It’s a better alternative to a swimming pool.” 

He lost power on Tuesday and still didn’t have power Wednesday morning, so he patiently waited for the splashground to open at 11 a.m. 

“It seems like this heat isn’t going anywhere,” he said. 

Varayla Limalima, 34, watched her four-year-old daughter Reagan happily dance, jump and squeal with excitement in the splashground. 

“We wanted to come out and get some cool refreshing water to cool off,” said Limalima, of Obetz.

Their power came back at 5 a.m. Wednesday morning after going out for 14 hours, long enough for them to lose a lot of food from their refrigerator. Now they are in the process of determining if they want to use their home insurance to help cover the cost. 

“Definitely stay hydrated, that’s the number one thing,” she said. 

Ohio State Wexner Medical Center and Ohio State East Hospital have so far been unaffected by the power outages, said spokeswoman Marti Leitch. The medical center remains in close contact with AEP to monitor the ongoing situation, Leitch said.

OhioHealth’s Riverside Methodist Hospital and Grant Medical Center were both using emergency power Tuesday evening but had their electric fully restored by 6 p.m. Tuesday, said spokeswoman Katie Logan.

Some Columbus hotels have seen an influx of locals looking for rooms in the midst of a massive power outage. 

The Residence Inn by Marriot in Easton reported they have no power and are not able to take reservations at this time. Other hotels in the Easton area are also experiencing a loss of power.

Yulio Beracierto, hotel manager at the Hilton Columbus Downtown location, said they have some reservations made as a response to the power outages, but nothing that is “out of the ordinary.” 

Beracierto said the hotel is also offering a limited number of rooms at a special community rate to support those who have been affected by the outage. 

No power means spoiled food for some.

Keleea Leake, 39, was in the process of making salmon and rice for dinner Tuesday afternoon when the power to her North Linden house went out. Leake and her two high school aged children instead spent the evening alternating between the front porch and her car, using half a tank of gas in the process.

The food in their refrigerator and freezer has by now gone bad, leaving them with nothing to eat.

Just before noon Wednesday, Leake and her son and daughter sat at a picnic table under an umbrella outside All People’s Fresh Market on the South Side, waiting for the line into the Parsons Avenue market to thin before subjecting themselves to the sun.

“Today has been hell,” Leake said.

All People’s Fresh Market is run by the nonprofit Community Development for All People and provides free produce Tuesday through Saturday. The food is available to households making less than 200 percent of the federal poverty level. All that’s needed to sign up is a driver’s license or some other form of identification.

Leake moved here from New Jersey last month and spent much of what money she had on the move. She can’t afford to replace the groceries that spoiled.

Leake said her 12-year-old son sometimes uses a breathing machine to alleviate chronic asthma, which of course requires power.

“They’re frustrated, so that makes me frustrated,” she added. “Me not being able to get them any food. I don’t have anything. I exhausted everything with this move.”

“I’m disgusted. I never had something like this happen.”

The traffic lights were out about 11 a.m. Wednesday along Summit Street in Italian Village at the intersections of East 1st and East 2nd avenues and Warren Street. 

Nate Schweitzer, who lives on North 4th Street, was walking along Summit. He said he lost power just 20 minutes before.

“What else am I going to do?’ said Schweitzer, 35, who works from home and texted his office that he lost power.

In South Linden, Michell Wiley of McGuffey Road, said Wednesday morning that she was without power from about 3 p.m. Tuesday to 8:45 a.m. Wednesday. She said she spent Tuesday night with her daughter who lives near Brice and Refugee roads on the Far East Side, where there was power. Wiley also took her 78-year-old mother, who lives on Jefferson Avenue in the Linden area, to the Hilton at Polaris.

“It was not good,” said Wiley of the power loss. She thinks it was unfair that her neighborhood with its less-expensive homes was targeted for a power shutdown. “They think less of us,” she said.

New outages continued during the day on Wednesday.

In one part of North Linden between Karl and Maize roads south of Cooke Road, 2,796 customers lost power at 8:43 a.m. 

Jasmine Ayres, a North Linden area commissioner, said she and a friend drove the Northland area about 10:30 p.m., along Morse and Karl roads and East Dublin-Granville Road, seeing nothing but darkness.

“Northland was devastating last night,” Ayres said. “So many senior living facilities.”

“How did the neighborhood with the most immigrants and refugees and Black folks have no power?” she said.

“We have to get serious to think about improving our infrastructure,” she said.

If you were without power last night, you weren’t alone. The city’s mayor, Andrew J. Ginther, was too, according to a post he made on social media.

In a separate tweet, he urged residents to “please be patient, take advantage of @ColsRecParks cooling centers and pools tomorrow, and check on your neighbors.”

Three Columbus library branches opening late Wednesday 

The Columbus Metropolitan Library announced Wednesday that the Karl Road, Linden and South High branches will be opening later due to the power outages. The Karl Road and Linden branches opened at 11 a.m. while the South High branch will open at 12 p.m. The Driving Park branch was also scheduled to open, but has lost power as of 11 a.m., said Media Specialist Ben Zenitsky. 

Parts of South Side affected by power outages, heat 

Several traffic lights on South High Street south of 104 in the Far South Side did not have power Wednesday morning.

The South High branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library did not have power, but was restored around 10 a.m., Zenitsky said. 

As of 10:30 a.m., businesses along South High Street have power such as Lowe’s, Kroger and Walmart. However, the flea market at the South Side Drive-In wrapped up early around 9 a.m., as it its usually open until 1 p.m.

That area is faring better than most areas on the South and Far South sides. The 43207 Zip Code, which according to Google Maps encompasses all of the Far South Side and the southern half of the South Side, had the fifth-most customer outages on AEP’s map with around 3,000-4,000. 

When will power be restored?

American Electric Power says electricity may not be restored until late Thursday evening in much of central Ohio.

Hard-hit areas can expect a multiday outage, and inclement weather may cause further damage and additional outages, according to a release.

According to AEP, power is expected to be restored in:

Central Ohio

  • Northeast Columbus – 11:59 p.m. Thursday
  • Northwest Columbus – 11:59 p.m. Thursday
  • Southeast Columbus – 11:59 p.m. Thursday
  • Southwest Columbus – 11:59 p.m. Thursday
  • Delaware – 3:30 p.m. Wednesday

Southeastern Ohio

  • Athens – 3 p.m. Wednesday
  • Crooksville – 1 p.m. Wednesday
  •  Marietta – 5 p.m. Thursday
  • McConnelsville – 5 p.m. Thursday
  • Pomeroy – 11:59 p.m. Thursday

Southern Ohio

  • Chillicothe – Noon Friday
  •  Hillsboro – Noon Wednesday
  •  Lucasville – Noon Friday
  • Wellston – Noon Friday

Eastern Ohio

  • Belmont – 11 p.m. Friday
  • Coshocton – 11 p.m. Saturday
  • Mt. Vernon – 11:59 p.m. Friday
  • Newark  – 11:59 p.m. Thursday
  • Zanesville – 4 p.m. Friday

Are the power outages brownouts?

When asked if the outage was the result of a brownout, AEP spokesperson Scott Blake said it was “not necessarily” a brownout, which he said was a technical term that did not apply to the situation.

Due to the heavy storm and winds over the past several days and extreme heat, some lines became stressed and needed to be turned offline to prevent further extensive power line damage, Blake said. When lines are damaged they become sectionalized and other lines become stressed when the power load does not transfer as easily. 

Columbus extends hours at select community centers, pools, splash pads due to heat wave

With temperatures pushing dangerously high this week, Columbus Recreation and Parks will open cooling centers with extended hours at five regional community centers today through Thursday.

Select city pools and splash pads will have extended hours as well, city officials announced Tuesday.

The city facilities are escapes from heat that was expected to reach as high as 95 degrees Tuesday, with a heat index as high as 109, according to the National Weather Service office in Wilmington. Wednesday temperatures will get up to 97 degrees, with a heat index of 106 while Thursday will get up to 95 degrees.

Find out more here.

Reporters Cole Behrens, Megan Henry, Monroe Trombly, Mark Ferenchik, Mark Williams, Taijuan Moorman, Max Filby, Bethany Bruner, Zaria Johnson and Emma Skidmore contributed to this story. 

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