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Power outage temporarily halts 911 service in Lee County

Thousands were without power in Dixon, ComEd says

Published: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 8:24 a.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Jan. 6, 2014 10:34 p.m. CDT
Caption
(David Giuliani/dgiuliani@saukvalley.com)
Lee County 911 center personnel work this 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 temperatures, Lee County's 911 center was among about 1,500 places in Dixon without power this morning.

But officials trudged through the deep snow to try to start the 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 this morning. It was restored about 10:30 a.m.

For a while, all 911 calls in Lee County were being rerouted through Carroll County's center.

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

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

ComEd reports that 1,305 customers wereaffected in Dixon from a downed power line.  Thousands of people were impacted, ComEd said.

About 10:30 a.m., ComEd said about 800 customers still were without power.

On First Street in downtown Dixon, few cars were on the road this morning and many businesses were closed. Most traffic lights were working, but those at Peoria Avenue and Second Street was down.

The traffic light at Everett Street and Galena Avenue was out. But nearby businesses were busy. A half-dozen cars lined up at the McDonald'sdrive-through, while customerswere using nearly all of the pumps at Phillips 66.

The 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 about 8:15 a.m., opening up a pack of Wall Street Journals.

A woman came in shortly after and asked whether the shop was open.

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

Power was restored to the store later in the morning.

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 this morning.

"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, the KSB Town Center Square never had an interruption in power. It even had a lighted Christmas tree.

Asked whether there had been any problems with electricity, one employee wondered about the question. She was unaware of the nearby outage.

The KSB building is apparently on a different grid.

Dixon City Hall and Dixon Public Library are closed today. The Dixon City Council meeting scheduled for tonight has been postponed until later this week. The time and date has not yet been set.

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

The Dixon Community Food Pantry also is closed today.

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

In Morrison, garbage collection today has been delayed until Tuesday. Those with normal Tuesday collection will have their garbage picked up Wednesday instead. And Thursday collections will be done Friday.

Garbage collection in Dixon and Sterling also was postponed today. The daily schedule for this week in both cities will be pushed back by a day.

In Rock Falls, garbage pickup continued today but could be delayed, Mayor Bill Wescott said.

Hospice of the Rock River Valley has closed its office in Dixon today. Nurses will be on call for patients' needs.

The Lee County Health Department also is closed today.

Lincoln Avenue Church of God in Dixon said it has 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 to get out of the cold.

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