Extended power outages hit home for Phoenix residents

AP News
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Posted: Sep 02, 2015 5:34 PM
Extended power outages hit home for Phoenix residents

PHOENIX (AP) — A savage storm with wind, rain and lightning that damaged buildings, knocked down trees, utility poles and power lines added up to sweaty predicaments for many Phoenix residents.

For those without power for extended periods, the late-summer outages meant no air conditioning at home, forcing them to head to coffee shops or the homes of friends or relatives.

The high temperature was 99 on Tuesday, the day after the storm struck Monday night.

Arizona Public Service Co. and Salt Project between them had 70,000 customers without power immediately after the storm. By Wednesday, the number of customers without power had dropped below 3,000 as repairs and cleanup continued across the city.

Utility officials said the restoration of power took a long time in some areas because the extensive damage to poles and other gear was scattered across Phoenix and several suburbs.

Sam Mittelsteadt, an editor for a marketing firm, said homes on his block lost power for over 24 hours. It came back on late Tuesday night or early Wednesday while he slept at a friend's house which still had power. Meanwhile, one block adjacent to Mittelsteadt's had power restored Tuesday afternoon and the next block in the other direction never lost power.

Besides having to find a place cool enough to sleep, Mittelsteadt temporarily had to bum rides.

His car was inside his rented home's detached garage, which couldn't be opened without use of the electric door opener and its remote control.

"The people who own the house don't know where the key is to do that," he said of the backup system.

The Pizza People Pub closed when the power went out. Power wasn't restored until 24 hours later, so it'll be Thursday evening before it reopens, said MaryBeth Scanlon, co-owner and general manager.

In the meantime, the business is cleaning, restocking and preparing inventory after tossing "every sauce, every salad dressing, any chicken wing — everything perishable in the restaurant," Scanlon said.

"We're going to have an insurance claim — food lost, business lost," she said. "I haven't done the math yet. We are in the thousands of dollars for sure."

Another restaurant closed by the outage was able to get hundreds of pounds of dry ice to keep its food cool until the arrival of a refrigerated truck provided by a distributor.

Joel Schmitt, general manager of The Old Spaghetti Factory, called APS every hour "until the power came back Tuesday evening to try to get an update," he said. "This was one for the books for me."

APS and SRP offered bags of free ice to powerless customers, but Wendy Cavalari said she didn't have time to go to a distribution site.

"That really didn't help because I had to work," said Cavalari, a website developer who went to coffee shops to find air conditioning and Internet. She said she left her refrigerator closed until power came back on Tuesday afternoon but ended up throwing out spoiled leftovers and produce.

The Phoenix Zoo remained closed as cleanup continued. Zoo officials say some fencing was damaged, but all the animals are accounted for and are OK. Some of the downed trees will be used in animal habitats.

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Associated Press writer Terry Tang contributed to this story.