Rolling outages leaves people in dark for hours



Posted on February 2, 2011 at 7:35 PM

KVUE received a number of e-mails from viewers Wednesday morning concerned about the rolling outages. Some sat in the dark without heat for hours.
When one KVUE News crew first met David McElroy, he and his wife were burning candles to see.

"It's been chilly,” McElroy said.

The temperature in their South Austin home was in the 60s. It was the third time they had lost power. McElroy says the first rolling black out knocked out power at 6 a.m. for one hour.

"Bless my daughter. She fixed the coffee at five o'clock in the morning and it still wasn't too old to face,” he said.

A long-sleeved shirt and his cup of Joe kept him warm until the power returned briefly at 7 a.m. It went off again at 7:42 a.m. and stayed off until 9:58 a.m. He hurried around the house not knowing when it would go dark again.

By mid-morning when the KVUE crew arrived, the power was going in and out on 30-minute intervals. Each time it would come back on, he would check the thermostat. The most it would ever heat up was 68 degrees.

McElroy's biggest concern was keeping his three-year-old grandson warm.

It was a frustrating situation. McElroy, like other Austin Energy customers, was expecting to be without power for seven to 10 minutes.

"If they're going to set up the block of hour segments, just say that,” McElroy said. “Someone could at least plan to do the most important thing they need to do in that time."

The most important thing in McElroy’s retirement years is reading the morning newspaper. It sat folded until the lights came back on at 11:30 a.m.

"When you get old it doesn't make any difference because it may be the last time the lights are going out. You can't afford to be indignant about a thing like that,” he said.

The McElroy's lost power a total of four times. One viewer in Oak Hill tells us the power went out eight times.