Sarah Jarvis stood in the doorway to Dillon’s in downtown Arkansas City, telling approaching customers that the store was closed due to a power outage Monday afternoon.
The sky was blue and the air was hot — employees didn’t know why the power had stopped — but were handling it the best they could for disappointed customers, she said.
“We’re trying to be nice and trying not to get yelled at,” Jarvis said. “They’ve been understanding.”
About 4,300 Westar customers and businesses in the western half of Arkansas City and including downtown, lost power for about 45 minutes on a sweltering Monday afternoon starting about 1:40 p.m., according to Westar Energy.
Equipment failure at the Paris Park substation was the culprit, according to Westar spokesperson Kaley Bohlen. Several circuits were affected, she said, when a transformer failed. Power was restored at 2:25 p.m.
Businesses closed doors to customers, traffic lights were out, a non-emergency dispatch number stopped working, and elderly residents called 911 concerned about the lack of air-conditioning.
The heat index was expected to hit 107 on Monday, with a heat advisory in effect through late this afternoon for Cowley County and most of south-central Kansas.
The City of Arkansas City asked motorists to please drive safely and reminded them that an intersection with lights out should be treated as a four-way stop, with cars required to yield to the right. Officers were stationed at most intersections to ensure safety downtown.
Power to City Hall went out, but a generator was used to keep working. The non-emergency number for first responders (620) 441-4444 stopped working and customers were advised to call (620) 221-5555.
Braum’s shut down all its equipment as it waited for the outage to end. Manager Jeff Davidson said the freezers will keep items cold for 4 to 6 hours. “It’s not good for business, but it’s a part of life,” he said.
Customers have been good-natured about the problem, Davidson added.
“A lot of the ones that are coming through are also affected by the power outage, so they’re very understanding,” he said.
Dillon’s customer Pat White was shopping with food in her cart when the power went down. An employee told her they had 20 minutes of battery back up.
“There were some lights on, and they were able to ring me up,” White said.