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An arctic blast? Hardly

Power outage in Dixon, 911 center out for a time

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
(Philip Marruffo/
Jenifer Johnson braves the bitter cold temperatures to feed the ducks and geese at Page Park in Dixon late Monday afternoon.
(David Giuliani/
Lee County 911 center personnel work Monday morning to start a generator. Once it was cranked up, the center was able to receive emergency calls. Earlier, calls had been rerouted through Carroll County's 911 center when power went out in Dixon.

DIXON – In 18-below-zero temperatures, Lee County's 911 center was among more than 1,000 places in Dixon to lose power about 7:30 a.m. Monday.

Officials trudged through deep snow to start the center's generator. After a few tries, they cranked it up.

They walked through the basement of the center, which is next to the county courthouse, to check the systems. Dispatchers reported that things were working.

Even after the system was revived, cellphone service for 911 calls still was down for a while. It was restored about 10:30 a.m.

During the systemwide shutdown, all 911 calls in Lee County were routed through Carroll County's center.

After 911 service came up, Shelley Dallas, Lee County's lead dispatcher, rushed through the building's front door, asking a reporter to tell people to call only "if it's absolutely a life-or-death emergency."

Calls were way up, she said, because of the extreme cold.

ComEd reported that 1,305 customers lost power in Dixon after a line went down. Thousands of people were affected, ComEd said.

About 10:30 a.m., ComEd said about 800 customers still were without power. By noon, all power had been restored, Dixon police said.

On First Street in downtown Dixon, few cars were on the road Monday morning. Most traffic lights were working, though the light at Everett Street and Galena Avenue was among the few that were out.

Near that light, a half-dozen cars lined up at the McDonald's drive-thru, while customers used most of the pumps at Phillips 66.

The gas station clerk told customers that the gasoline pumps were running as "slow as molasses" because of the cold.

Larry Dunphy, owner of Books on First in downtown Dixon, walked into his shop shortly after 8 a.m., opening up a bundle of Wall Street Journals.

A woman then came in, asking whether the shop was open.

"Yes," Dunphy responded, "but that doesn't do much good, because we have no power."

The shop's power was restored about an hour later.

Dunphy, who lives about 10 miles south of Dixon, said he usually gets to the store about 6:15 a.m., but the roads were rough.

"I just walked in," Dunphy said. "By a quarter to 7, we usually have 15 people here. Maybe they came, but I wasn't here."

Across the street from Books on First, KSB Town Square Centre never had an interruption in power. It even had a lighted Christmas tree.

Asked whether there had been any problems with electricity, one employee was unaware of the nearby outage. The KSB building is apparently on a different grid.

Dixon City Hall and Dixon Public Library were closed Monday. The City Council meeting scheduled for Monday was postponed until later this week. The time and date had not been set.

The Sterling City Council canceled its meeting scheduled for the same night. Mayor Skip Lee said the meeting most likely would not be rescheduled.

The Dixon Community Food Pantry also was closed Monday.

Happy Tails Humane Society in Rock Falls was closed to the public Monday, because its driveway was being blocked by drifting snow. In an email, Happy Tails said animals were being cared for.

In Morrison, trash collection Monday was delayed until today. Those with normal Tuesday collection will have their trash picked up Wednesday, and Thursday collections will be made Friday.

Trash collection in Dixon, Rock Falls and Sterling also were postponed Monday. The daily schedule for this week in the cities will be pushed back by a day.

Lincoln Avenue Church of God in Dixon said it had opened its doors as a warming center for people needing respite. The church is at 704 S. Lincoln Ave. in Dixon.

People also are welcome to go to the Dixon Police Department downtown to get out of the cold.

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