Old Market Businesses Left in Dark After Power Outage

By: Ann McIntire Email
By: Ann McIntire Email

The lights went out around 6 p.m. Sunday evening, and for many businesses, apartment, and offices downtown, they remained off Monday afternoon. OPPD said about 100 customers were still without power more than 20 hours after an underground fire and explosion.

OPPD crews worked to strip and replace charred cable from manholes Monday morning in the area where the explosion affected three manholes, near 17th and St. Mary's, Sunday evening around 5:45 pm. According to OPPD, replacing all that damage takes time.

The affected area was downsized from 2,000 customers, to an area between 12th and 20th Streets and Harney and Jones.

Cubby's Grocery and Gas Station sits in the middle of that area. The store would normally be busy on a Monday morning. “We have customers who routinely come to our location, and they'll be disappointed that we're closed,” said supervisor, Bruce Friedlander.

Instead customers found closed signs and the gas pumps roped off. “We loaded up our produce and our meat and our frozen food and we sent it back to our product supply center, and now we're waiting for the power to come back on,” said Friedlander.

Despite the darkness and somewhat emptiness inside, there was still work to be done Monday morning. “We're working because we don't know when the power comes back on so we don't want to not have employees ready to go, when the power comes back,” said Friedlander.

The cutoff line of who had power and who did not was obvious along Howard Street. The lights stopped between 11th and 12th Streets, with Niche and Zio's Pizza both shining brightly, but everything to the west, dark.

Farther up Howard, in the dark, sat Homer's but there was something different there. the store was open Monday.

“Get some candles, there's just no music in the store, but I brought a flashlight and I got a pen and a piece of paper, that should get the job done,” said Eric Ziegler of Homer's. “Without power, I'm just shifting CD's, making room.”

He said he felt he might as well come in and get work done. “As long as people don't mind paying with cash.”

“Cash is good,” said customer Diane Bailey of Lincoln.

She and her husband, Scott made the trip to Omaha from Lincoln, and were searching for records in the dark.

“Decided to take a day off, enjoy the day with him, come to the Old Market, I've never been here before, and there's no power,” said Diane.

“I'm surprised they're open to tell you the truth, we didn't know there wasn't any power, we just walked in, we were walking by and I said, there's no lights, and then I actually saw you open the door, and we came in behind you,” said Scott.

There was something else unusual in the Old Market Monday as well, finding a parking spot was easy.

“There's nobody here," chimed the couple. "I mean there's always people here,” said Scott.


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