By Bill Brady
“This email is to alert you that there is an electric outage in your area …”
Residents of at least one block in Falcon Heights are finding the above message all too familiar, having seen it in their inboxes three times in less than three weeks from the end of July to mid-August.
The block — bounded by Larpenteur Avenue to the south, Hamline Avenue to the east, Garden Street to the north and Albert Street to the west – was just one portion of a larger reported outage of 1,400 customers extending to Roseville and St. Paul, but these residents felt isolated because their across-the-street neighbors were largely spared from the worst of it.
The first, and by-far longest, outage started just before 5 p.m. Friday, July 28, and lasted till 10 a.m. Saturday — more than 16 hours in total. Residents scrambled to find alternative storage for the contents of their freezers and refrigerators, or lost food due to spoilage.
Two weeks later almost to the minute, shortly after 5 p.m. Friday, August 11, out went the lights again. They were still out when most of the residents went to bed that night.
Many residents, including Maryanna Schaefer of Albert Street, powered through the evening with the help of battery-powered lamps. “Gonna keep workin, #powerout,” she posted on her Facebook page above a picture of her showing off her alternative power source.
Power returned at 2:30 a.m. Saturday, for a total outage time of 8 hours, 31 minutes, but folks barely had enough time to re-set their blinking microwaves when power outage number three hit, just after 10:30 p.m. Sunday, August 13. This was the shortest-lived, as crews were able to get the juice flowing in less than two hours.
All three power failures were caused by falling trees during stormy weather, according to Xcel Energy spokesperson Kevin Coss. “It can be common for multiple storm outages to take place in the same area over the course of several weeks,” he said. “This was the case with the(se) three outages, where the storms followed a similar path, resulting in similar impacts.”
“We know losing power, especially for an extended period of time, can be difficult,” Coss added by way of apology. “We work to forecast and prepare for storms so that our crews can respond quickly to outages and safely restore service as soon as possible.”
Bill Brady is copy editor for the Bugle and, as you might have guessed, a resident of the Falcon Heights block referenced in the story.