The news that we had lost power at the office wasn’t overly alarming since it had happened in the past and we normally had power back within an hour or two. However when he told me it could be out until the next morning it became much more serious. “There was a pretty severe storm that went through up near Eastside Baptist Church and there are poles, lines and trees down in the area,” he said. He also told me that he had gone up to the storm damaged area and was told by Alabama Power employees it could be 5 or 6 Monday morning before we got our power back. Our dilemma was that we still didn’t have our Monday paper ready and even if we did, we couldn’t print it without electricity. Knowing it was going to be the next morning before we could do anything we sent our employees home with instructions we would call when the power came back on.
I was hopeful that things would go more swiftly with the repair crews from Alabama Power and we would get power back after about an hour or so. But I realized as I turned into our parking lot Monday morning and saw our parking lot filled with carriers’ cars that was only wishful thinking. I really knew how bad things were as I passed the Alabama Power trucks and saw their crews in the Eastside Baptist parking lot with poles, lines and trees laying on the ground everywhere. I also knew that the crews were doing everything they could, as fast as they could, to get us back up and running.
As I walked into the front office, I was encouraged to see the lights were on around the building so I knew we had power back. Checking with my production manager he told me that the power had been restored about 7:45 and he and Ben (one of our sports folks) were trying to get everything back online so we could finish the front and jump pages as well as the sports pages. However, when the power went off it also killed our Internet service which we also needed back up and running. Not being able to get it back up as quickly as we needed, they did some re-routing and we were able to get to the Internet.
We finally got everything finished for Monday’s edition and to the press room about 9:45, which I know eased the minds of our carriers who were anxiously awaiting their papers. I know they, like us, wanted to get the edition printed and to their customers as quickly as possible. It had been just as long of a night for them as it had been for us.
We got many, many calls throughout the day wondering about their newspaper and if they were going to get one. After a short explanation, most everyone understood our situation and expressed their sympathy for our dilemma. For those of you that called we thank you, it lets us know how important the Eagle is to you each day and for that we are most grateful. We also appreciate your patience and understanding when we have problems that are beyond our control.
We have had power outages here at the office before but they have only lasted one to two hours. This nearly 14-hour outage was certainly my first experience, and to be quite honest, I hope it is my last.
Jerome Wassmann is editor and publisher of the Daily Mountain Eagle