Downtown South Bend power restored

By: Megan Hickey, John Hanlon, AP Email
By: Megan Hickey, John Hanlon, AP Email
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Power returned to downtown South Bend around noon Sunday, after a man hole fire Thursday night put more than 800 homes and businesses in the dark.

(Photo: I&M / Twitter)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Power returned to downtown South Bend around noon Sunday, after a man hole fire Thursday night put more than 800 homes and businesses in the dark.

Utility crews replaced 4,000 feet of copper cable to get the system back on-line.

Indiana Michigan Power President and COO Paul Chodak said the cooperation from the City and residents was outstanding.

"You don't see that in every city," Chodak said. "We have outages in different places from time to time in... obviously not as severe as this one was but the coordination here was just fantastic and really it takes all those people together working through it."

Thousands of people were in town for graduation ceremonies at both Notre Dame and Saint Mary's over the weekend. Both campuses were not affected by the outage.

Now that power is back on, Indiana Michigan Power is asking businesses who've been on generator power to remain on generator power until they are contacted by I&M. The utility company wants to prevent an overload to the system as people switch back.

In its statement Sunday morning, I&M praised residents and officials of the city of South Bend, for banding together to make the power outage hardship easier on everyone.

Having power restored was reason to celebrate for at least one downtown business.

Once the power came back on, Fiddler's Hearth passed out "Breton Sunrises" to customers, and toasted to the hard-working utility crews.

The band appropriately played "Here Comes the Sun" for the occasion.

Like many other downtown businesses, Fiddler's Hearth used a generator to stay open through the outage.

“We're probably the only restaurant that's open downtown on Sunday during the day,” said Carol Meehan. “So, we're staying on generator until Monday morning. I got a restaurant full of people and we can't shut down just to power up again.”

The owners also lost power at their home, but they're thankful for the people at Downtown South Bend who checked on businesses throughout the hectic weekend.

While outages in the city are rare, Kratt said this blackout was far more severe than a typical storm-related electrical outage.

“A city's grid is sufficiently different,” he said. “The strength of a network like this is very robust and you have very few outages -- which we have had very few in the past decade. The weakness in a system like this is when you do have an outage, it's very large.”

Crews were required to mend about 24 different sections of cable throughout the course of the day Saturday. Work was completed in 5 different man holes scattered under the streets downtown.

Then about seven to eight hours of testing were required to reset the entire system.

In an effort to help out tired electrical workers, businesses like Texas Roadhouse and Barnaby’s stepped in to provide a hot meal while they worked.

“Anything that we can do to ease the transition,” said Rick Logsdon of Texas Roadhouse. “I’m more worried about the workers being away from home being away from their family. We’re happy to help out any way we can.”

Downtown businesses brought in generators early Friday morning to help power up restaurants and hotels.

For an updated list of what is open and what is closed: click here

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