Thanks to backup generators, Reynoldsburg's Fall Food Truck Festival was held as scheduled Friday, Sept. 22, at JFK Park, but city offices, the police station and thousands of residents were without electricity for several hours that day.
City Service Director Bill Sampson said the power outage that affected residents in Reynoldsburg and the East Columbus area from about 3:20 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday and at about the same times Friday, meant several busy intersections, including Lancaster Avenue and East Main Street, did not have working traffic signals.
"The police were very quick to respond to help us direct traffic in those areas," he said. "Thankfully, the food trucks at the festival had their own power sources and the city and the police department have backup generators."
AEP Ohio spokesman Scott Fuller cited equipment failure at a Reynoldsburg substation as the reason for the power outage on both days. Sampson said the city got several calls during the outage, but he was in the same position as most residents as far as receiving information from AEP.
"The outage extended up to Waggoner Road and we had three intersections out," he said. "I was in contact with AEP at almost identical times on Friday as on Thursday and I know the outage affected several of the communities on the East Side.
"AEP does not call service directors any more quickly than any other resident," he said. "My question was why it happened at the same time on Friday, but I understood they were trying to diagnose the problem."
He said although the backup generators helped city offices function, the computer system was down during those hours Thursday and Friday.
The AEP website showed the outage on Thursday extended as far north as the subdivision south of Mount Carmel East Hospital, along South Hamilton Road and East Livingston Avenue past Big Walnut Metropark. Outages also were reported south of Interstate 70 at Chatterton Road and Refugee Road.
The loss of power Thursday affected more than 16,000 customers and Friday, about 13,345 customers were without electricity in the same general area, according to AEP.
By 7:45 p.m. Friday, power was restored in that area, according to the AEP website, aepohio.com.
Lt. Bill Early, who took over as acting police chief Sept. 22, said he had a "trial by fire" on his first day as interim chief.
"We were OK during the Thursday outage because of our backup generators, but on Friday, the speed control dial on a generator was not giving us full power," he said. "It shut all of our computer systems down and we had to transfer our 911 services over to Franklin County."
He said a blown fuse also meant some of the automatic police doors would not open.
"When Franklin County routed a call back to us, we had to go old school and get out our old plug-in phones, since the generator not working affected our phone system as well," he said. "We also have cell phones for use in that area, too."
He said 911 dispatchers had to write down the information from Franklin County about Reynoldsburg calls, then had to log it into the computer system later when it came back online.
"We brought in a few third-shift people to come out and direct traffic, which wasn't an easy job in the 90-degree heat," he said.
Valerie Wunder, communications director for Reynoldsburg schools, said the central office building at 7244 E. Main St. also lost power Thursday and Friday at roughly the same afternoon-to-evening hours.
"Power was also out on the Reynoldsburg High School Livingston campus, but they were about to dismiss school each day when it went out," she said. "We lost power at Hannah Ashton Middle School both days, too."
She said Hannah Ashton had to cancel a curriculum night on Thursday and a "Superheroes" event Friday evening.
"We Tweeted about the power outage and posted it on Facebook as a banner on our website," she said.
She said those two schools were the only ones affected by the power outage.