November 26, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
33°F
test

1,500 left in the cold in Elyria

ELYRIA — Johneida Young clutched her housecoat tight as she spoke.

“I’ve got a winter coat on under this,” she said, chuckling. “It’s cold.”

Young was one of more than 1,500 Elyria residents who were without natural gas service Friday. Crews from Columbia Gas were working into the night to restore service, but many residents won’t have it turned on until this evening, according to Columbia Gas spokesman Ray Frank.

The affected area is bordered by the Ohio Turnpike to the north, the railroad tracks just east of Lake Avenue to the east, Lowell Street to the south and the Oakwood Elementary School area to the west.

The problem began when a mechanical device that controls the amount of natural gas pumped into the area malfunctioned, Frank said.

The device was replaced by Friday afternoon and nearly 60 crews immediately began restoring service to customers.

Young said she noticed her Lake Avenue house getting colder around 3 p.m. and learned about the outage from a neighbor. She and her husband, Tim, have a newborn, another child and two nieces who stay with them.

“We’ve just been eating cold cuts and putting things in the microwave, which I’m not thrilled about,” she said. With temperatures dipping into the low 40s most of the evening and even lower temperatures expected overnight, she and her husband planned on taking the children to her mother’s home in North Ridgeville while they stay behind to wait on Columbia Gas crews.

“I’ve got lots of blankets to keep us warm tonight,” she said.

Columbia Gas technicians will have to be let into affected homes twice to turn the gas on. The first time they’ll shut off the gas valve as a precaution and the second they’ll relight pilots on furnaces and appliances. Everyone still affected is being asked to have at least one adult in the home to let a worker inside. They’ll be in marked vehicles bearing the Columbia Gas logo and in uniform. Residents are encouraged to ask for ID before letting workers into their home.

“If you have to leave, make plans with a neighbor to allow gas workers access to the home,” said Frank.

Jennifer Jackson, 44, said her plan was to sit camped out on her couch Friday night, munching on snack cakes while her husband worked the overnight shift.

“I’ve got a bunch of blankets on me and, of course, my Cleveland Browns fleece,” she said.

In response to the outage, the American Red Cross of Lorain County opened its West River Road North offices as a warming station Friday night, where hot beverages, snacks and games for kids awaited those seeking reprieve from their frigid dwellings.

“We certainly don’t want anyone to be uncomfortable, so we’re inviting everyone affected to come out,” Executive Director Rita Campbell said.

Only one family showed up to use the services. By 11 p.m. the offices closed due to lack of need.

Contact Adam Wright at 329-7155 or awright@chroniclet.com.