LISBON - More than 3,000 residents, mostly in the Lisbon-Hanoverton area, were without electricity at different times on Tuesday as temperatures plunged to 14 degrees below zero.
Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency Director Luke Newbold said the longest power outage - lasting more than four hours - occurred in and around Lisbon, resulting in the decision to open a shelter at Lisbon's David Anderson Junior-Senior High School.
The Lisbon-area outage began at 7:30 a.m. and power was restored about noon, but Newbold said the shelter, staffed by the local chapter of the American Red Cross and amateur radio volunteers, remained open through the night in case there were other outages.
Lisbon firefighters stand in one of the flooded hallways at Columbiana County Municipal Court after a waterline feeding the sprinkler system broke, causing significant flooding in the west end of the building. Skip McLean, center, who is in charge of security at the Columbiana County Municipal Court building, assesses the damage. (Salem News photo by Patti Schaeffer)
The temperature was expected to drop to -2 Tuesday night before increasing to 22 degrees today and reaching the 40s by the weekend.
Newbold said there were isolated outages throughout the county but the highest concentration was in the Lisbon-Hanoverton-Guilford Lake area. There was an outage Monday night in Winona that lasted for 30 minutes, and preparations were being made to open a shelter at the Friends Church in Winona when power was restored.
Despite the outages, Newbold said no one needed to use the shelter in Lisbon as of late Tuesday afternoon. The EMA and United Local High School were made available as warming stations, and Newbold said they brought a Guilford Lake woman to the EMA after she lost power for about an hour.
The Wellsville Fire Department later made its fire hall available as a warming station, which is a place for people who believe they will be able to return to their homes within several hours. The Salem Salvation Army opened as a warming station at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
Newbold said East Palestine Fire Chief Brett Todd, who serves as the fire department liaison for the EMA, organized firefighters to patrol some of the areas outside Lisbon to determine if they needed assistance during the outage.
Some Lisbon businesses affected by the outage closed for the day, while Opportunity Homes and Sunrise Homes outside the village were operating on backup generators until power was restored.
Except for the county commissioners' and sheriff's offices, the county courthouse closed in the afternoon after a frozen waterline broke in the boiler room, resulting in water being shut off to the building. A problem with the boiler system resulted in the boiler room being filled with the sub-zero cold overnight, freezing waterlines and the system's condensate tank.
Several people who showed up in the afternoon for scheduled court hearings were turned away by the security staff, including a couple that had driven from Pennsylvania.
At 6:30 p.m., the fire alarm went off at the county municipal court building after a frozen waterline broke, lowering the water pressure to the fire suppression system and triggering the alarm. The waterline feeds the sprinkler system and runs through the false ceiling above the courtroom and offices of Judge Carol Robb, causing major damage to both as well as the main foyer. The title department, which is located in the same building, sustained heavy flood damage.
Chief Deputy Clerk of Courts Shane Patrone said they were assessing the damage and had yet to determine whether court would be canceled for today. He said the problem appeared to be due to insufficient insulation.
Newbold said the power outages were caused by an overworked power grid, with the regional power grid that includes Ohio setting a usage record on Tuesday. To decrease the chance of further outages, officials were urging the public to conserve electricity, especially during the peak hours of 6 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 10 p.m.
The EMA remained on standby Monday night but was activated and staffed Tuesday night in case of an emergency. Newbold urged residents to keep abreast of developments via the EMA's Facebook page, Twitter account or by going online to ccoema.org. The public is also encouraged to go to Nixle.com to sign up for EMA text and email alerts and and advisories.
Anyone needing non-emergency assistance can call the EMA at 330-424-9725.