CINCINNATI — Thousands of homes and business are still without power a week after a powerful storm blacked out large sections of the state, officials from electric utilities in Ohio say.
Damage caused by high wind from the remnants of Hurricane Ike cut power to about 2.6 million customers across Ohio at the peak of the outage on Sept. 14.
Columbus-based American Electric Power reported Saturday that about 77,000 of its customers were still without power early Saturday.
Dayton Power and Light said about 59,000 customers still have no electricity.
Facing another day with no power, residents of a senior housing community in western Ohio took to the street with foam signs to protest the failure of Dayton Power and Light Co. to restore electricity.
"You would think that based on our abilities, our capabilities, residents here should draw some priority," resident Bob Williams, 80, told the Dayton Daily News.
Power outages are more than an inconvenience at the Fairwood Village retirement community where some residents depend on oxygen devices, 911 service and working elevators.
Friday's protest seemed to get a reaction. Within three hours of residents heading to the curb with their placards, crews were working to restore power.
The protest was one of many indications that frustration continues to grow as utility crews work to restore electricity to the remaining 330,000 homes and businesses left in the dark since the remains of Hurricane Ike blew through Ohio on Sunday.
A man in a Cincinnati suburb was arrested Thursday, accused of threatening a utility worker with a gun that he said shoots plastic BBs. The man later said he was joking.
Some customers had become so impatient by Wednesday that they drove to a Duke Energy dispatch center east of Cincinnati. Clermont County Sheriff A.J. Rodenberg said Duke asked his office to provide security after a few customers appeared intimidating and threatening to workers trying to get their trucks out.
Approximately 2.6 million homes and businesses were without power at the peak of the outage in Ohio.
Blame it on Ike
Winds reaching 78 mph swept through on Sunday, and at least seven of the dozens of deaths blamed on Ike were in Ohio. Trees were uprooted, falling on homes, blocking roads and bringing down power lines and poles. Long lines formed at the gas stations, groceries and hardware stores that didn't lose power. Schools and businesses were forced to close for days.
By Friday, many schools had reopened, piles of tree limbs and other debris were being picked up and traffic lights and gas stations were operating again.
About 164,000 homes and businesses in Kentucky, Indiana and Pennsylvania remained without power.
Utility companies say it is too soon to assess the cost of repairs and how it may affect customers. They urged patience as they move from fixing larger circuits to smaller ones, which often slows the rate of repairs.
"Now we're into situations where maybe if there are only a few homes we have to restore, we may have to set new poles, string new wire or place new transformers," said FirstEnergy Corp. spokesman Mark Durbin. "Those are labor intensive jobs. In some rural locations, trees came crashing down on our equipment."
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