How I&M Turns the Lights Back On

By Max Resnik

July 2, 2012 Updated Jul 2, 2012 at 6:31 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – Electrical crews from throughout the Midwest have come to Fort Wayne to assist in the power restoration of the Northeast Indiana area.

One crew, from Kentucky, could be found Monday morning near the corner of St Joe Boulevard and Delaware Avenue working to restore power on a section of the Summit City they says has one of the oldest electrical setups.

John Boehme, along with his granddaughters, sat outside their Delaware Avenue home, generator running, watching crews attempting to restore power to their block. He says the last four days have been hell.

“All I want to know is I don't ever want it to happen again."

Boehme bought a generator at Home Depot. He says the line to buy one was enormous as 240 of them were brought off of the truck. Spending money on gasoline to keep the generator running, Boehme hooked up some fans, lights, his refrigerator and freezer and a couple of TVs to the generator.

“About $100 [worth of gas] since Friday. Twelve hours for seven gallons. And it’s been running almost non-stop since Friday,” says Boehme.

Indiana-Michigan Power spokeswoman, YaVonda Ulfig, says the added help from electrical crews from around the country has been a nice bonus in the restoration process.

“We’ve had crews from Kentucky to Michigan to Indianapolis Power and Lights, so definitely a lot of hands on deck chipping in and helping to lend a helping hand during this restoration effort. We’re so grateful for everyone who’s been involved in getting the lights back on for our customers.”

Nobe Jones, also of Indiana-Michigan Power, is one of the men and women in the field helping to get the lights back on. Jones says the process of getting electricity back begins with an assessor arriving to the scene to survey the extent of the damage. It is at this point that tree removal crews could be brought in to clear a greater path for electrical crews to access power lines.

He says, in the case of St. Joe Boulevard and Delaware Avenue, the next step is restoring the three-phase power lines. Those are the lines connected to high-rise poles along a circuit. Typically, according to Jones, they are powerful enough to supply power to 10 blocks worth of homes and businesses. After that, single-phase lines are brought back to life. Those are the lines supplying the electricity to homes. Jones says beginning with the three-phase line is the most efficient way of working.

"We try to utilize the workforce that we have, the best that we can and it seems to work best to focus on the three-phase because we get more of our commercial and the majority of our customers on that way."

Boehme says once his light have returned, his household will be in cleanup mode.

"Straighten my house up, get rid of all my drop cord and get it all back in order like it's supposed to be."

I&M says 80 percent of Allen County residents still without power will likely get it back late Wednesday night. The remaining 20 percent will have to wait until the weekend.

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