Lake Worth power outage: Residents suffer through a night of misery

It was a little hotter in Lake Worth last night.

At 11:20 p.m., an overhead wire used to divert lightning, broke loose and made contact with an energized, high voltage equipment at the main point of power delivery for Lake Worth Electric Utilities, causing a fire and a power outage.

More than 26,000 people in the city woke up this morning in the dark.

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To provide intermediary power, the Lake Worth Municipal Power Plant was brought on line at 11:40 p.m. By 4:30 a.m. the city said it achieved maximum power generation by providing power for 19,600 people. Repairs at the power plant near Interstate 95 and Hypoluxo Road were made.

The city said power was fully restored at 6:47 a.m., halfway through the morning rush hour, which caused some traffic problems at intersections where stoplights failed, especially those near Palm Beach State College.

“Great cooperation and assistance were provided by (Florida Power and Light) and various city employees who worked safely through the night to restore the system,” Ed Liberty, Lake Worth Utilities Director, said in a statement.

The initial cause of the overhead wire breakage has yet to be determined but the incident will be investigated to understand the cause of the failure, the city said.

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Tammy Pansa, who lives in downtown Lake Worth, said she lost power before midnight last night. “Well, when the power goes out in Lake Worth, the neighbors congregate online, we commiserate and Lake Worth does report pretty well,” she said. “They kept us updated on the Twitter feed and online.”

Still, Pansa said the overnight heat — humid in the high 70s — was miserable.

“I didn’t break out the generator, I just broke out the battery back up and plugged in my fan,” she said.

Greg Rice, who also lives downtown, said he had no idea what time his power went out. “I couldn’t tell what time it went off because the clock went off,” he said. “I really don’t know. I knew the power went off because my ceiling fans quit spinning and I knew I paid my bill.”

Rice said the outage reminded him of Hurricane Irma, which hit Palm Beach County in September.

“It was hot,” he said.

Mayor Pam Triolo said she was getting ready for bed when the power went out. “It was out until about 6 this morning,” she said. ‘“I slept most of the time. It was warm, but I had a fan on.”

Maryann Furth said she lost power for about three hours, but that didn’t bother her. “I’m comfortable without air conditioning,” she said. “We were fine.”

Michael Chase Flack-Fox said he wasn’t even aware the power was off.

“I was at the University of Miami all day yesterday so I was worn out,” he said. “There were little or no problems. I slept right through it.”

Triolo said The Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office was helpful.

“They were manning all the railroad tracks in case any signals were down and they also had extra patrols on the streets, making sure everyone was safe and sound,” she said. “There were no injuries or crime issues at all. A lot of people felt their presence so it was very comforting.”

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