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Power outage is emergency test for 157 homes in southwest Okeechobee.

Friday, August 24, 2012 01:37:21 PM by Katrina Elsken

There was a bright flash in the sky ... and then the lights went out.

Residents in southwest Okeechobee County found themselves without power Wednesday evening after lightning struck a power pole. According to Florida Power and Light, the outage affected 157 homes.

The thunderstorm that raged off and on did not appear to be anything out of the ordinary. But around 7:45 p.m., a large lightning bolt lit up the sky. Residents in the area of the strike reported hearing an explosion. And then everything went dark.

For many, it was a test of their preparedness. Do you know where the flashlights are? Do the flashlights have fresh batteries?

Something to remember in case of a power outage: The sooner it is reported, the sooner it will be fixed. And the more people who call, the more motivated the power company will be. Don't assume someone else will report it. I happened to be the first person to report this particular outage. I know this because the FPL automated response told me no one else in the area had a problem and suggested I reset the breaker. But while I was still on the line, others apparently called in too, because the message changed to tell me that an FPL crew was on the way.

If you need to report a power outage, do you know the number? Take a minute to store the emergency number in your cell phone or post a list of emergency numbers next to your "land line" phone, so that you won't have to search for a telephone book by flashlight. Florida Power and Light's number is 1-800-226-3545. Glades Electric's emergency number is 800-226-4024. (Remember that if your "land line" phone includes an answering machine or has a cordless handset and thus requires electricity, it won't work in a power outage. Consider investing a few dollars in an old-fashioned phone that just plugs into the telephone outlet.)

Wednesday evening, the FPL crew was able to restore service to many customers by 9:15 p.m. and the rest by 1:30 a.m. Thursday.  The blackout provided time to reflect on what would have happened in an extended power outage. With a tropical storm headed our way, now is the time to prepare, even if it only means putting fresh batteries in the flashlights.



 




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