It's lights out for East Lansing.
About 4,000 businesses and residents experienced a power outage Thursday.Starting at about 12:30 p.m., 3,574 Lansing Board of Water & Light customers lost power after a backup cable to a faulty underground cable was cut, said Cheval Breggins, spokesman for the board. "It wasn't weather related or load related," Breggins said. The faulty cable was located at a substation on Howard Street, however, as of 4 p.m., its exact location had not been identified. Locations that are tied into the cable were affected by the outage. Consumers Energy customers were not affected by the outage. "We're just looking to solve this problem and restore power," Breggins said. "We cannot guarantee everyone will be restored at the same time or when that will happen."
Businesses such as Student Book Store, 421 E. Grand River Ave., worked on a backup generator while Starbucks, 401 E. Grand River Ave., placed a sign in the window informing customers they were unable to serve drinks or food.
From the standpoint of the East Lansing Police Department, there have been few problems because of the outage.
"We had minimum responsibility," East Lansing police Capt. Kim Johnson said. "We had some guys working the intersections and putting portable signs up."
If the electricity isn't fixed soon, the department will increase patrols, Johnson said.
For now, the Lansing Board of Water & Light is looking to restore power wherever they can.
The plan is to borrow electricity from working circuits and transfer it to those that aren't working, Breggins said.
"We're just looking to getting power restored."
Takin' it to the streets
Cedar Village Apartments sat abandoned along Waters Edge Drive.
Beach towels covered small patches of grass as students carried their laptops - minus the power cords - out into the sunlight, getting as much use out of them as they could until the batteries died.
Cedar Village apartments were one of the main areas affected by the power outage, and students adjusted to a day without electricity.
Some seemed frustrated.
"I just bought a new video game," someone yelled from the top floor of an apartment.
Others, such as education senior Rachel Diven, kinesiology senior Megan Hicks and dietetics senior Carrie Banner, chatted while laying out in the sun on a patch of grass next to their apartment.
"Laying out is one of the only things you can do," Hicks said. "And you can listen to your iPod - if it's charged."
Banner said she spent most of the afternoon in class on campus, which had power, so she did not know the power was out until she arrived home.
"It would've affected me if it happened an hour earlier," she said.
Luckily, she didn't have anything to turn in for her class.
On the other hand, Diven said she had a friend who called her, upset because she would be unable to turn in her LON-CAPA assignments on the Internet.
Premedical senior Katy Demitruk was using her computer at the time the power went out.
"I immediately called Cedar Village," she said. "I thought it was only my apartment."
She found out the power outage went far beyond her apartment, so she decided to spend the day in the sun instead. She also said she plans on grilling dinner Thursday.
"We can't cook," she said. "And I'm bummed I can't make daiquiris."
A good way to keep things cold is to take ice and put it in a washing machine or bath tub, Demitruk said.
But Demitruk won't attempt to save all things perishable.
"We're going to eat all the ice cream because it will melt," she said.
Out and about
Downtown Emily Boehmer and Amy Bindbeutel pulled into 7-Eleven, 918 E. Grand River Ave., and found the store closed because of the power outage.
"It's just frustrating, I'm trying to get a Slurpee," Bindbeutel said.
Boehmer said her house on the second block of Stoddard Avenue also was without power.
"I'm really bored, I can't watch TV or go on the Internet," she said, adding that she was stressed because she couldn't connect to the Internet to take her online geography quiz.
Rhonda Ledesma, an employee at 7-Eleven, said the power outage killed the store's ability to offer cold beverages.
"It kills our sales," she said. "We have all the construction workers coming in, and we can't give them drinks."
Ledesma said she had turned away about 50 potential customers since the store's power shut off at about 12:30 p.m.
At 4:30 p.m., the power was off at Dan Morrison's house at 208 Durand St.
Although Morrison was upset some of his food was rotting, his thoughts were on finding the right bar to watch the Pistons game.
"I've got to watch the Pistons," he said. "That's the No. 1 thing right now."
East Lansing to the rescue?
City Hall While East Lansing residents worried about spoiled food and dead phones, some city officials were surprised to discover parts of the city were without power Thursday.
Because the outages were scattered throughout East Lansing and did not affect the entire city, officials didn't follow typical emergency procedures, City Manager Ted Staton said.
In cases like the Northeast blackout in 2003, city officials will meet to assess the severity of the problem, determine what resources are available and estimate how long people can last without power, Staton said.
All of the city's critical facilities, like the jail and police dispatch, have backup power sources, he said.
City Hall, 410 Abbott Road, was unaffected by the outage. Because he was in meetings all day, Staton did not know about the power failure until late afternoon.
The Division Street parking structure used a unique solution to keep things up and running. The structure's incoming pay station was hooked up to the engine of a car, so customers could still get tickets.
It was functioning less than an hour after the power went out around noon. Lot 12, underneath the Marriott at University Place, 300 M.A.C. Ave., was without power for the rest of the afternoon said Dan O'Connor, East Lansing's parking administrator.
The fire alarm system also malfunctioned at the Marriott.
The hotel went on fire watch, a system where hotel employees patrol the building, Fire Marshall Bob Pratt said. Fire watch is a standard procedure anytime a building's fire alarm is down for more than four hours.
"Their only function is to make sure there's not a fire," he said.
Staff writers Ashley A. Smith, Colleen Maxwell, Brian McVicar and Sarah Norris contributed to this report.