Power back for downtown Detroit – USA TODAY
A power outage left buildings closed and streetlights out in Detroit today.
Detroit Free Press
DETROIT — Detroit officials fully restored power to downtown government buildings, schools, a hospital, traffic lights and police and fire halls Tuesday after a major cable failure caused parts of the city to go dark for up to seven hours.
All customers of the municipal power system affected by the outage had their power back, the city said at 5:15 p.m.
Mayor Mike Duggan says the power grid hasn’t been modernized in decades in Detroit, which is emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. DTE Energy Co. is taking over the department and upgrading the system.
The outages knocked out electricity to most public buildings, trapping many people in elevators and cutting power to police departments, fire stations, schools, jails and traffic lights.
The “major cable failure” shut down the grid at about 10:30 a.m., according to a statement from the City of Detroit, affecting at least 100 major customers, such as the fire department, which have numerous individual facilities.
“We have isolated the issue and are working to restore power as soon as possible,” according to the statement by the city.
Traffic lights began coming back on at many intersections around 11:45 a.m. and in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice, where many people were evacuated through stairwells. Other buildings were gradually going back online in early afternoon.
Other affected buildings included the Detroit Institute of Arts and Wayne State,
The Coleman A. Young Municipal Center also was was evacuated. More than 1,200 inmates at two locations were locked down until power is restored, said Lt. Brian Earle with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office.
The automated 3-mile long Detroit People Mover, which encircles downtown Detroit, was also shut down. Schools let out classes at mid-day.
Some police officers speaking to their dispatcher on police scanners said they were concerned about running out of gasoline because gas pumps were down.
A number of fire stations were on generator power, and all are able to take calls by landline or radio, according to Detroit Fire dispatch radio traffic.
The Detroit Medical Center’s Detroit Receiving Hospital began has begun rerouting highest-level trauma patients to Henry Ford and St. John’s main hospitals, although emergency power system have kept patients “safe and well cared for,” according to a statement. Other DMC hospitals — Harper and Hutzel, for example — were not affected by the outage.
Medical Center spokeswoman Sarah Collica said she was told “the lights flickered on and off — an indication that crews are working on the problem” she said, but overall “patient care was not affected.”
The ongoing murder trial of Bob Bashara at the Hall of Justice was abruptly paused after the lights flickered and went out. People are evacuating the courthouse by the stairwell. Bashara, 56, is accused of directing his former handyman, Joseph Gentz, to kill his wife, Jane Bashara.
Among others dealing with outages today:
• The Detroit Institute of Arts Museum was closed because of the outage, cutting short nearly 900 children’s field trips. A back-up generator was activated to maintain humidity and climate control as well as security.
“The art is never damaged during a power outage,” said museum spokeswoman Pam Marcil.
• The Detroit Historical Society lost power while a school group was in the Streets of Old Detroit exhibit, according to organization spokesman Bob Sadler.
“There wasn’t any panic” he said. “The staff acted fast. They had flashlights. They moved them up to lobby and they boarded their buses.”
Some old and delicate pieces in the DHS collection are temperature- and humidity-controlled, but Sadler said the power outage won’t impact their well-being.
• Though Cobo Center lost its power and the work crews preparing for the North American International Auto Show were sent home, it won’t affect their ability to be ready for the region’s prime event in January, said Cobo spokesman Phil Frame.
He explained that safety regulations required that.
“I think they’re going to be able to recover fine,” he said. “We expect to be back up in few hours. Either the grid will come up or there are some generators we’re trying to get. We expect everything to be back to normal business by tomorrow morning.”
The auto show opens to the press on Jan. 12 and to the public on Jan. 17.
• The private Detroit Yacht Club on Belle Isle also lost power.
• The outages also cut power to the Belle Isle Aquarium, but the fish will be OK. Back-up generators are keeping the filtration system running, said Richard Kik, the aquarium curator. The lights are on, just dimmer; the aquarium is open to the public on weekends.
Meanwhile, many non-public buildings were unaffected.
Reports of the outages began flooding fire department radio traffic shortly after 10:30 a.m., with dispatchers checking to make sure the stations were able to open their garage doors.
Contributing: Associated Press