Businesses, schools close as power outage continues

Published 11:03 am Monday, December 19, 2016

A total of 2,700 Entergy customers remained without power Monday morning as utility crews continued working to restore power to affected areas of Vicksburg and Warren County.
Entergy spokesperson Shelia McKinnis said utility officials expected to have power restored by noon.
McKinnis said 2,138 of the affected customers are in an area around Interstate 20, Mississippi 27 and Porter’s Chapel Road served by Entergy’s Vicksburg East substation. Those areas went down Sunday morning when a tree fell on a transmission line to the substation, knocking it into a ravine. The outages also affected several public schools, forcing Vicksburg Warren School District officials to cancel classes for the day. Classes were expected to resume Tuesday.
At the height of the outages, 4,612 Entergy customers in Vicksburg and Warren County had power disrupted.
The outages occurred early Sunday as a severe weather system, packing rain and winds as high as 22 mph with gusts up to 33 mph, moved through the area.
The high winds blew over trees and limbs on power lines in the area, causing scattered power outages across Vicksburg and Warren County.
Warren County Sheriff Warren Pace said the sheriff’s office received 15 calls about downed trees and limbs blocking county roads.
“Those were quickly removed by deputies, county road department employees and county firefighters,” he said. “Everything is open now.”
Emergency Management director John Elfer said despite the outages and slight damage, it could have been worse.
“We had a bad storm blow through here,” Elfer said. “We were very lucky.”
Besides darkening area homes, the loss of power closed many businesses in the area, which were unable open or operate because of the power shortage.
Stores at the Outlets of Vicksburg on South Frontage Road were closed for lack of power. So too were the nearby Cracker Barrel restaurant and surrounding hotels and other businesses on East Clay Street, U.S. 61 North, and along North Frontage Road from Indiana Avenue west to Halls Ferry Road and on the west side of South Frontage Road from Old Highway 27 west to the El Sombrero restaurant.
Traffic signals were out at the intersections of Confederate and Indiana avenues, East Clay and Berryman Road, and East Clay at Mississippi 27, and U.S. 61 North at Culkin Road, forcing motorists to treat each intersections as a four-way stop.
Pace said the U.S. 61 North/Culkin Road intersection was a state intersection and the Mississippi Highway Patrol and the Mississippi Department of Highways had been notified.
“The lights went out about 7,” said Mikala Clark, manager at La Quinta Inn. “I got here at 5. We had them for two hours and then out. The lights flickered before they went out.”
Clark said the hotel had 45 people check out Sunday, adding four were staying over. Since the power went out, she said, several cars drove up and then left when the occupants saw the lights were out.
The Hampton Inn, on Clay Street, north of Interstate 20 by the Vicksburg National Military Park was also without power, but businesses west of the intersection of Clay Street and Old Highway 27 had lights and were open.
One South Frontage Road business was open despite the blackout.
The sign on the sliding doors at Tractor Supply said, “Caution, doors open slowly,” while inside customers were lined at the register to pay for items.
Assistant manager Brad Cogan said the power went out between and 8 and 8:30 a.m.
“We’ve had people coming in,” he said as he helped a customer load a generator into his truck. “It’s fluctuated. A lot of people don’t know we’re open.”
Businesses along North Frontage Road were also hit, as Corner Market, Waffle House and surrounding convienence stores were without power.

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About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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