Cleveland on boil water order

Electrical power and water have been restored to most of Cleveland.

BY DANIEL YEE | CLEVELAND, Ohio | August 16, 2003

"Ohioans showed their character by remaining calm throughout the evening."

—Gov. Bob Taft

Electrical power and water have been restored to most of Cleveland but many still had to boil their water as officials worked to overcome the remaining hurdles caused by Thursday's massive power outage in parts of the United States and Canada.

Gov. Bob Taft said most of northern and part of central Ohio were affected by the outage. Taft announced a state of emergency for Cuyahoga County, which surrounds Cleveland.

That meant one evening in the dark for residents who aren't normally accustomed to such things.

"Ohioans showed their character by remaining calm throughout the evening," Taft said in a statement.

In Cleveland, crime was minimal and there were no deaths associated to the power outage, said Celeste Glasgow, spokeswoman for Mayor Jane Campbell.

"People really stayed off the streets - it was really eerie," Glasgow said. "The city was so dark and still people really did what we asked them to."

The governor also has requested the state's public utilities commission to investigate how the outage occurred in Ohio and to create recommendations on how to prevent the same thing from happening again.

Utilities commission chairman Alan Schriber said such an inquiry likely will help other states.

"At this time, we are not looking to assess blame for this incident, but rather, obtain a minute-by-minute accounting that led up to and caused this blackout," Schriber said in a statement. "The good news is the systems performed as designed in this situation."

In Cleveland, at least 80,000 customers lost power and 400,000 water accounts that served 1.5 million people went without service Thursday afternoon. But most of the power and water services were running by Friday evening.

During the outage, the city's aging services division addressed any problems the elderly may have had. The police force doubled its regular day-to-day size in order to staff precincts and handle traffic concerns. The city's 21 EMS stations were fully staffed and ready to go.

One problem faced by the country's 10th largest water system was gravity: Cleveland sits in a valley and officials had to make sure water could be pumped up to its suburbs, which lie in higher elevations, Glasgow said.

The resumption of water enabled Cleveland to lift its sprinkling ban but officials have placed a boil order on the city until at least noon Sunday for areas that had water service disrupted. The boil order may be extended, depending on the results of tests on the water, Glasgow said.

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