Pin oak pulls plug for 8,000 customers

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Skies were clear with little breeze, but one tree fell on one remote transmission line just after the noon hour Tuesday, interrupting Entergy service to about 8,000 customers in Hinds and Warren counties.

Outages started at 1:10 p.m. and lasted from 15 minutes to two hours or more as the utility company rearranged the flow of power. After about 90 minutes, employees at the Vicksburg District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on East Clay Street called it a day and went home.

Schools stuck with it. “Fortunately, the temperature was cool and we had completed lunch time,” said Superintendent James Price. “It was more of an inconven-ience than anything. We lost an hour of instructional time.” said Price.

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Don Arnold, Entergy spokesman, said a helicopter was summoned to find what triggered the outage. It was a pin oak that had fallen on a transmission line between Vicksburg and Edwards and caused losses of service not just in Vicksburg, but also in Clinton, Bolton, Edwards and Bovina.

By rerouting supply, many customers got service back quickly. But after 90 minutes, 2,958 customers were still without power.

At the peak, however, the loss of service was four times more widespread than the peak of Hurricane Gustav, when 2,013 customers lost service in Warren County.

There was no question of fuel supplies, but at the Texaco Kangaroo station on Indiana there was no power to the pumps. “I don’t like it because I miss the sales,” said manager Corena Womble. “It’s frustrating, especially with it being around lunchtime.”

Speaking of lunch, there was also frustration at the nearby McDonald’s on North Frontage Road, where owner Melanie Roach said service is often lost for unknown reasons. “We lose power when the wind blows at this location,” Roach said of one of the three franchises in the city. She and her husband also own the McDonald’s at Clay and Mission 66 and on Iowa Boulevard. “The location on Clay Street never loses power — not even during Katrina. It is quite frustrating because we would love to be serving our customers right now, but we can’t,” she said.

Atwood car dealership manager Craig Schwinn pointed out that electricity is needed for everything.

“I wish power could come back on so we can start business,” he said. “We have people here who want to buy a car, but they can’t because the computers don’t work.”

The freakish outage was also scattered. Some South Frontage Road locations had only brief interruptions, while the power continued to be out in businesses on North Frontage Road.