Archive for Wednesday, February 6, 2002

Baldwin ducks power problems

February 6, 2002

People from as far away as Kansas City swarmed The Lodge over the weekend looking for an available room.

"We sold out for Friday night in two hours," manager Janet Seele said. "It was busy."

The demand was for a room with electricity, something that was scarce for some people after last week's ice storm.

"We had families from Kansas City, Ottawa, Edgerton and Wellsville here," owner Peach Madl said. "We still have several people here because of it."

City Administrator Larry Paine said Baldwin could be considered one of the fortunate communities when it came to electricity last week. Unlike other surrounding towns and cities, some that are still without electricity, most of Baldwin only lost power for a day or so.

The entire town lost electricity Wednesday evening, he said, and by Thursday night, most of the houses had been restored.

"Out of 1,300 houses, 96 percent of the town was up Thursday night," Paine said. "Between 20 and 50 houses didn't have power Thursday night and they were fixed Friday and Saturday."

He said the crews started the engines at the city's power plant to help restore power to Baldwin.

"At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, the whole town lost power, because the feed from Gardner iced over and went out of service," he said. "From Wednesday night, we started the process of bringing the engines on and trying to bring up customers."

But Paine said the city didn't have an easy time doing that.

"We basically had trouble because of the line configuration," he said. "When we tried to get the northeast feed on, it would trip."

Utility Director Terry McKinney said the engines weren't large enough to bring the entire city back up.

"The guys were able to get up all but one feed and that's the northeast feed," McKinney said. "We had enough capacity to carry the city, but if you want to carry larger loads, you're going to have to have a larger engine."

Another problem electric crews faced were fallen electric lines because of the ice and tree limbs, Paine said.

"If you lay a limb on a line and it touches two, it conducts electricity between the two and trips the line," he said. "That's what we were dealing with."

But electric crews worked for 39 straight hours, he said, to restore power to most of Baldwin by Thursday evening.

"These guys were dead tired on their feet," Paine said. "But they did a fantastic job."

He said only about 50 houses remained without electricity after Thursday because of individual line problems caused by ice or tree limbs. Those problems, he said, were fixed by Saturday.

Paine said the city's work did not go unnoticed.

"I know a lot of people called in and expressed their appreciation for the work they did," he said. "They said, 'Thank you. Thank you for doing the extra effort.'"

Council Member George McCrary said he had heard a lot of thanks from the community.

"I've heard nothing but excellent comments about how our crews have done an outstanding job," he said.

Madl said she applauded the city for it's hard work in restoring the power.

"I thought Baldwin did a fantastic job getting everybody up," she said. "Baldwin fared pretty well."

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