More than a dozen Com Ed trucks and crews were in downtown Evanston on Tuesday morning, trying to find the source of a power outage that has left some businesses fully or partially without power for close to 24 hours.
While more than 5,000 Evanston customers temporarily lost power early Monday afternoon due to the fierce wind and rain, the still-out-outage downtown may not be connected to that quick but powerful storm.
Instead, according a store employee whose shop is without electricity, workers doing excavation in the alley behind the Orrington Hotel on Monday may have hit an undergound power line.
Com Ed spokesperson John Schoen tells Evanston Now that while specifics are still being investigated, crews are going “manhole to manhole,” trying to figure out the cause of the outage and how to fix it.
Even though the downtown power went out around the same time Monday as the storm-related outage, the timing appears to be a coincidence.
Because the current search is concentrated below ground, that pretty much shows that the lost power was not due to wind knocking down utility lines.
Laura Dundas, manager-in-training at Insomnia Cookies, on Sherman Avenue, tells Evanston Now that “we lost ice cream” due to losing power, and “had to bring in 100 pounds of dry ice” to keep other products from melting or spoiling.
With students starting to return to campus, Dundas says “we don’t want to make a bad first impression” by being closed just when the need for a sweet treat hits the Northwestern scholars.
The power was out Monday in the block surrounded by the east side of Sherman, Clark, Orrington, and Church. There may be other impacted streets as well.
The Orrington Hotel has a backup generator and so is not impacted by the power loss.
There is no time frame yet for when all the power will be restored.
Com Ed’s Schoen says “we’re doing everything we can to expedite it.”
Update 6:30 p.m .: A ComEd worker at the scene tells Evanston Now that power has been restored to all of the buildings that lost electricity, except the CVS at `1711 Sherman Ave., and the building that houses the Chipotle restaurant on Church Street.
Crews are still working to get the power back on to those buildings.
Update 6:30 a.m. 8/31/22: ComEd indicates power has been restored to all downtown businesses by Wednesday morning. City Manager Luke Stowe says he understands Tuesday’s outage downtown was caused by a contractor laying fiber optic cable.
Stowe says the given the widespread outages around the region caused by Monday’s storm, it seemed ComEd did well with restoration, considering the overall extent of damage.