About 1300 people in Normal Heights went without electricity for ten hours, starting at 5 p.m. Monday, January 7, after a construction crew replacing sewer pipes crushed underground power lines at 33rd Street and Meade Avenue. The same crew broke the underground water main for the area on Friday, January 4, leaving people without water for seven hours.
Electricity was cut for the residences south of Meade and north of El Cajon Boulevard from 33rd to 40th streets and came back on at around 3 a.m.
The eerie darkness was made stranger by the well-lit blocks on either side of the long, narrow blackout area.
"We were told this wouldn't happen when they put the lines underground," said Mark Scott, whose home was lit with candles and camping lanterns while he played tunes he'd saved to his (battery-powered) laptop. "It's very weird to go without the internet and television."
Initial estimates from SDG&E put the repair completion at around 8 p.m., and some people went to dinner or friends' homes, planning to return to lit homes, only to find a deeper darkness when they got back.
SDG&E crews sent to repair the cables found too much damage to patch safely. They worked into the night to run new power cable.
Police increased patrols in the area, but no incidents were reported other than problems with garage doors and security gates.
The project is being handled by contractors, according to city council president Todd Gloria's Normal Heights staff member Dion Akers. "We've had an unusual number of problems with this project," he said.