Bicycle tour of a darkened city


To the editor:

When the lights went out at about 10 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 17, I thought I would make a brief tour on my bike (lights on, front and back, of course), to see what the darkened city was like.

An article in the paper last week (Aug. 23) informed us that the immediate cause had been two 69,000-volt circuit breakers that had tripped, but the tone of the article was negative, which left me puzzled. Here is what I saw: The police had moved quickly and unceremoniously to set up flares at intersections, either two in crosswalks, or at smaller intersections, one right in the middle, which motorists understood to be a four-way stop. Generators were rumbling at city hall and the telephone company; the hospital was fully lit, including its parking lot. Lights could be seen in campus hallways, confirming that backup battery lighting was working. Teens were gathering under the darkened streetlights and walking the downtown streets. People were dining by candlelight at The Feve. Later my neighbor called on my land line to ask for a flashlight (thanks, phone company!). Behind the scenes, members of the electric crew, roused from a pleasant evening, were obviously hard at work, for we had power again by midnight.

The subsequent outages were proof that more sleuthing will be needed to learn why the breakers tripped but the bottom line for me was that we are lucky to live in Oberlin, a city that knows how to handle adversity. Thanks to everyone who helped out that night.

Rod Knight