Hawaii's Oahu Island Regains Power After Blackout

By: DAVID BRISCOE Associated Press Writer
By: DAVID BRISCOE Associated Press Writer

HONOLULU (AP) - Crews gradually restored electrical service across parts of Oahu on Saturday after a power failure blacked out the island's population of about 900,000 and thousands of visitors
including President-elect Barack Obama.

Residents had been urged to just stay home after the lights went out during a thunderstorm Friday evening. Hawaiian Electric Co. was investigating the cause.

Service had been restored to about 180,000 of the utility's 295,00 customers by 8:30 a.m. Saturday, power company officials said.

Obama, wife Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha are staying in a $9 million, five-bedroom oceanfront home near downtown Honolulu. Power was restored to the neighborhood before 6 a.m.

Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann told The Associated Press that while he did not talk with Obama directly, he had conveyed an offer for assistance shortly after the blackout began and was told the president-elect and his family were doing fine.

"He replied he didn't need anything, was grateful for our offer and was going to put his family to bed," Hannemann said.

Hannemann said three generators had been installed earlier for Obama's rented compound. He said a fourth generator which Hawaii
Electric had sent for Obama was turned away, but the power company
later set up a bigger one in the neighborhood in case it was needed.

Hawaiian Electric spokeswoman Jan Loose said power to some neighborhoods would likely not be restored until late Saturday.

"Keep your fingers crossed. We should have everybody restored. But folks on the east side will be out most of the morning," Loose said in radio interviews.

The Honolulu Advertiser said the island-wide blackout prevented printing and delivery of the paper Saturday, but it provided an electronic edition on its Web site headlined "POWERLESS."

Honolulu Star-Bulletin editor Frank Bridgewater said his paper planned to deliver a one-section, 16-page edition for Saturday.

Honolulu International Airport operated on emergency generators, with flights delayed up to several hours. Some incoming passengers were kept on planes for extended periods.

Hawaiian Electric spokesman Peter Rosegg said the initial power outage hit at 6:45 p.m., affecting most of the island. The rest of Oahu lost power two hours later when the last generator failed.

The telephone provider Hawaiian Telcom kept most of its system in service on generator and battery backup, spokeswoman Ann Nishida
said.

The outage closed stores at major retail outlets just after sunset, halting post-Christmas shopping a couple of hours early.

Highways were clogged as everyone tried to get home at once without stoplights to control traffic.

"I would advise ... everyone to just go to sleep," Lingle said in a radio interview late Friday.
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(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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