Correction appended: A previous version of this article misidentified Lee Tillotson-Becker’s gender. A previous version of this particle also misquoted Lee Tillotson-Becker.
Restaurants and other businesses in the South State Street area were forced to close their doors early last night when a power surge left them in the dark.
DTE Energy spokesman John Austerberry said in an interview last night that the outage impacted mostly parts of East Liberty Street, East Washington Street and South State Street and began at about 7:20 p.m. due to an underground cable failure. About 200 DTE customers were affected, Austerberry said, adding that he was unsure how long it would take the company to fix the issue.
“We have crews working on it and really can’t say with many great degree of certainty when we’ll make the restoration, but they’re working on it tonight, and they aren’t going to stop until they get it done,” Austerberry said.
However, according to an inquiry on the DTE Energy website regarding the status of power at Corner House Apartments located at 205 South State St., the power was expected to be restored sometime between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m. this morning. The inquiry also estimated the approximate number of outages in the area at about 1,000 as of 11 p.m.
As of 10:30 p.m., traffic lights at intersections in the area were still out of order. Several businesses including Buffalo Wild Wings on South State Street were closed by this time as well.
Tim Hawkins, a bartender at Buffalo Wild Wings, said after the power initially went out, workers and customers stayed at the restaurant for about 30 minutes in anticipation of regeneration before leaving the premises. Hawkins said power outages like last night’s happen fairly often at the business.
“This happens once every three or four months because the grids are not updated enough,” Hawkins said. “They haven’t updated this power grid in probably, you know, forever, so it has to do with all of the new businesses sprouting in the area and no new grids up, so it’s just a product of time.”
Lee Tillotson-Becker, house manager at the Michigan Theater on East Liberty Street, said while only part of the building was impacted by the outage, the theater was forced to cancel movie screenings.
“The Michigan Theater is two separate spheres, because it’s actually two separate buildings,” Tillotson-Becker said. “The front is on the Liberty power grid, but the front didn’t go down. The Washington grid did go down. The screening room is on that side … so we cancelled the 7:15 and the 9:30 screening tonight.”
Tillotson-Becker said he was frustrated by conflicting reports he had received from DTE Energy, which claimed on the company’s automated recording that the power would be restored by 9 p.m., but by 10:45 p.m., the power had not been turned back on.
— Daily News Editor Bethany Biron contributed to this report.