Power restored to 1,600 in Tryon area

Published 2:13 pm Monday, June 1, 2009

The two blocks of downtown Tryon, from the Lilac Wine Bar to 10 N. Trade Cafe, were out of power, but Stott&squo;s Ford and the Town of Tryon offices maintained power and were able to conduct business as usual. The downtown block south of the traffic light had power, and it was hit or miss on South Trade Street, with some businesses out and others just across the street still on.

All day, residents, customers and business operators loitering around Trade Street shared the latest rumors about when the power might be restored. Early in the day, the word was glum, with estimates that power might not come back on until 8 p.m. that evening.

It might not have been so bad, but before any repair work could even begin, power repair crews first had to call in a bulldozer to cut a road so they could get their bucket trucks into the woods to replace the poles.

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Furthermore, Duke Energy spokesperson Tim Pettit said the two circuits were complicated to repair. One circuit powered 1,068 customers and the other powered 530 customers, Pettit said.

So, without power, downtown Tryon took on a different rhythm. The coffee crowd at Trade Street Gallery and Coffee House simply moved the regular morning gathering onto the street, but for others in the food business, there were some worries.

Buck&39;s Pizza owner Tyler Philpott brought in a small generator to keep his serving coolers chilled until power could be restored. His freezers were maintaining a 40-degree status.

Gilbert Carmona, manager at 10 N. Trade Cafe, spent the day shoveling ice onto trays and loading those into his serving coolers while greeting customers.

&dquo;I was telling people just to please come back,&dquo; Carmona said. &dquo;People come here from all over and didn&squo;t know the power was out.&dquo;

A dozen or so people enjoyed lights and good company at Elmo&squo;s. Owner Pam Johnson had a small generator to power up the place and to keep things cool.

&dquo;Cold beer must flow,&dquo; one customer observed.

Merchandise was also flowing. Janet and Jim Cowan opened the doors at Cowan&squo;s Hardware and did a nice cash business during the day, plus a number of charge accounts, all by the light of the front window.

&dquo;All I needed was this pencil and calculator,&dquo; Jim Cowan observed.

Steve Cobb, pharmacist at Owen&squo;s Pharmacy, was able to help customers, handing out a couple of pills for prescriptions until the prescription could be properly filled and recorded the next day,

Cobb said Owens was to be closed Saturday for the girls&39; soccer state championships and he said he expected Friday to be slammed.

Betsy Goree, owner of The Book Shelf, went home and emailed her customers to warn that her store was closed. However, she left a stack of free books on the bench by the front door for those needing something to tide them over.

Bill Crowell, owner of Saluda Forge, said he and Kathleen Carson of Kathleen&squo;s Simply Irresistible Gallery &dquo;swept every floor from one end to the other,&dquo; and caught up on paperwork.

Stephen Brady was still in Tryon, but he said he had shipped his staff off to the Forest City offices of Main Street Financial and simply forwarded the phones to be answered there.

For some, the boredom of a day without power became too much.

By the end of the afternoon,&bsp; Tony Mayse of High Tech House Call and Carmona were entertaining themselves by heckling the drivers who didn&squo;t know how to proceed through the downtown main intersection with the traffic lights out.

When a traffic light is out, the law says that intersection legally becomes a four-way stop, yet drivers were actually speeding up to pass through. Carmona and Mayse were letting them hear their displeasure.

Then power came on, and everyone went back to work.