More than 210,000 American Electric Power customers were without power Tuesday afternoon in scattered outages, including more than 1127000 in the Columbus area, according to the AEP outage map.
Among the areas affected are Downtown, including the Rhodes State Office Tower, parts of the University District, Clintonville and Merion Village were all affected as of 3:40 p.m.
Beat the heat: Columbus extends hours at select community centers, pools, splash pads due to heat wave
Damage to system caused shutoffs
When asked if the outage was the result of a brownout, AEP spokesperson Scott Blake said it was “not necessarily” a brownout, which he said was a technical term that did not apply to the situation..
Due to the heavy storm and winds over the past several days and extreme heat, some lines became stressed and needed to be turned offline to prevent further extensive power line damage, Blake said. When lines are damaged they become sectionalized and other lines become stressed when the power load does not transfer as easily.
He said the number of customers affected by the outage grew throughout the afternoon as the power company made careful and deliberate shutoffs to maintain the power grid’s overall integrity. While he had not seen a map of the specific area affected, he said it appeared parts of the northeast Columbus area appear to have been affected.
Blake said crews were working across the entire power grid as quickly as possible but could not provide an estimate as to when power might be restored. He noted several hundred out-of-state mutual aid workers are traveling to the region to assist in power restoration.
“We understand it’s really uncomfortable with the heat and humidity,” Blake said.
High temperatures in the 90s Tuesday afternoon has placed a heavy demand on the electric grid from air conditioners and other appliances.
Services scramble during outage
Columbus Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Geitter said the division has received dozens of reports of fire alarms and elevator rescues across the city, likely due to the outages. Columbus Police Sgt. Joe Albert said no major traffic issues have arisen from the outages.
Drivers are reminded to treat non-functioning traffic lights as four-way stops.
The Franklin County Dog Shelter & Adoption Center announced on Facebook that the facility’s power was out and they were asking for donations of ice to cool down the dogs. Dozens of concerned people have brought ice and water and are working to get a generator for the center.
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A doctor at OhioHealth Riverside Methodist Hospital posted on social media that the hospital was without power except for backup generators in critical areas.
OhioHealth facilities are back to operating on normal power.
Due to the high temperatures, OhioHealth Grant Medical Center is on emergency power to help reduce the load on the city’s power grid, Katie Logan, spokesperson for OhioHealth said.
Grant Medical Center is still taking trauma and emergency surgery patients and is not on diversion, Logan said. However, the small remainder of elective surgeries still on the schedule Tuesday were rescheduled.
Ohio State University’s spokesperson said the campus is experiencing intermittent outages.
With weather in the mid-90 degrees, people without power may be seeking a place to cool off. According to a Columbus Recreation and Parks spokesperson, several community centers around the city remain open as cooling stations.
Blake said AEP is working to set up cooling stations throughout the area. Cooling station locations are available on AEP’s outage map, and appear as purple tents. Several have already been established in the north Franklin County and Delaware County areas.
The community centers open for extended hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the sweltering heat will be: Barnett (1184 Barnett Road), Beatty (247 N. Ohio Ave.), Douglas (1250 Windsor Ave.), Glenwood (1888 Fairmont Ave.) and Marion Franklin (2801 Lockbourne Road).
Dublin also opened a cooling station at the Dublin Community Recreation Center, 5600 Post Road, according to a news release. The hours will be 5:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Those who need to visit the cooling station must check in at the membership desk, and a staff member will show them to the center’s lounge areas.
This story is developing.
Cole Behrens is a reporter at The Columbus Dispatch covering public safety and breaking news. You can reach him at CBehrens@dispatch.com or find him on Twitter at @Colebehr_report