3,000 lose lights

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 2, 2004

Friday was anything but a feet-on-the-desk kind of day for employees at Network IT and Collins Communication. The work load tends to multiply when 3,000 people lose power.

Early Friday, around 1:10 a.m., one of Alabama Power’s major transformers in the Demopolis area failed, said Michael Sznajderman, a spokesman for the company.

“Most of the Demopolis area lost power, and right now, we’re not sure exactly what caused the problem.”

Regardless of what caused the outage, Sznajderman said major transmission lines running from substations in the area did not distribute power after the transformer failed. In simpler terms, no power was generated for most folks in Demopolis.

“We have to examine what happened, but it could be any thing,” Sznajderman said. “It could have over-heated. It could have been a squirrel. We just don’t know.”

Alabama Power sent crews to work almost immediately, and by 2:10, “power was restored to every customer,” Sznajderman said.

For Network IT and Collins Communication employees, the problems started about the same time Alabama Power restored service to its customers.

“When you lose power, the opportunity exists for voltage spikes or fluctuations,” said Woody Collins, owner of Collins Communication. “That can affect your computer’s hardware and sometimes even the software on some of these machines.”

While Network IT spent most of the day answering calls about shocked computers, technicians at Collins scurried around the city to get phones working again.

“A lot of the phones these days are powered by electricity, and when the back ups fail, it can damage the phones,” Collins said.

Phones weren’t the only problem for many residents and businesses in Demopolis, either.

“About 50 percent of our internet service from BellSouth shut down,” Collins said.

The BellSouth DSL lines run through the Collins Communication office and as of Friday afternoon, much of the service in Demopolis had not been restored.

According to Sznajderman, transformers often over-heat during the summer months because of excessive use. But while this is peak season for Alabama Power, Sznajderman said most over-use problems occur during the mid-day hours rather than at night.