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Detroit slow to come back

U.S. cities hit by Thursday's massive blackout began to light up again Friday with the glaring exception of Detroit.

BY TRAVIS DUNN | DETROIT | August 15, 2003

U.S. cities hit by Thursday's massive blackout began to light up again Friday with the glaring exception of Detroit.

And much of Detroit wasn't expected to regain power until Monday, according to Len Singer, spokesman for Detroit Edison, the power company that provides electricity to 2.1 million people in the Detroit metro area.

"We had our entire costumer base lose power yesterday," Singer said. By noon Friday, only 330,000 of those customers had their power back on.

"You do the math," he said.

Restoring power was likely to be "a very slow and methodical process, Singer said, since 85 percent of Detroit electricity is generated by coal-fired plants. These facilities, once shut down, take longer than other plants to get working again.

"That's the main reason it's taking as long as it's taking," he said. All Detroit Edison customers were expected to have power by Monday.

Detroit residents were under a boil-water advisory for the weekend, and were urged to use electricity conservatively as it began flowing again.

Meanwhile, local and county government officials were telling people to stay at home, according to Capt. Dean Creech, with the Dearborn Fire Department. In addition, emergency workers were distributing water and dry ice, he said.

At Salvation Army offices around Detroit, volunteers were handing out bottled water to thirsty residences and filling up jugs from those who brought their own containers.

"We've had a lot of people come by here," said Charles Williams, a volunteer at the Salvation Army Bagley St. office.

Across the city, workers set up "cooling centers" where resident could literally chill out, as well as pick up fresh water, said Bryan Peckinpaugh, spokesman for the American Red Cross.

Peckinpaugh said that Red Cross volunteers were helping out in the "cooling centers" and also working to bring in bottled water from outside the city.

"We have people working in shifts around the clock," he said.

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