ANGOLA — Thousands of Angola residents, businesses and educational institutions lost power Friday afternoon as a widespread outage blanketed most of the city.
Northern Indiana Public Service Co., which supplies much of Steuben County with power, confirmed the outage shortly after 2 p.m. Friday, but at the time was unable to provide an estimate for when power would be restored.
NIPSCO spokeswoman Dana Berkes said the outage stemmed from an issue at its substation on Broad Street and had dispatched workers to the site. Workers there said a raccoon apparently got into some equipment, causing a disruption of service.
During the peak of the outage, NIPSCO's website showed more than 4,800 customers in Angola affected by the outage.
"They are restoring (power) the safest and most efficient way for the community of Angola," Berkes said at the time the restoration was underway.
Trine University's campus was without power and closed all buildings around 3 p.m. Friday, directing residential students to return to their residence halls and sending commuter students home.
Steuben County Board of Commissioners President Wil Howard announced the closing of all county offices for the remainder of the day shortly before 3 p.m., with the exception of the highway department, which did not lose power.
Cameron Memorial Hospital also lost power momentarily during the outage, but switched to a backup generator system, spokeswoman Kelly Hammons said.
Shortly after the outage began, the Angola Police Department took to Facebook to urge residents not to call 9-1-1 to report the power outage, instead directing them to contact their electricity provider. The Steuben County Sheriff's Department also sent out a text alert with a similar message.
"Do not call 911 or APD dispatch to report power outages or ask why the power is out. Our phone lines are currently being overwhelmed with these calls," the department said in a post.
Several Angola residents told The Herald Republican that NIPSCO had notified them that their power would be back by Friday evening. The estimated restoration times they were provided with ranged from 7:45 p.m. to 10 p.m., depending on their location.
NIPSCO has started making changes in its Broad Street substation in Angola to bring people back on line following a mid-afternoon power outage. Berkes said all customers were to be back online by midnight.
Power had been restored to about 1,800 of the 4,800 customers who lost power by about 4 p.m., Berkes said.
About half of those who lost power should be restored by about 5:15 p.m. There were about 1,750 customers remaining to have their power restored at that time. All power was expected to be restored by midnight.
When power went out, the blackout covered a swath of Angola from about the 2100 block of North Wayne Street south, taking out Metroplitan School District of Steuben County Schools, numerous businesses and government offices. The MSD schools remained in session and dismissed at the regular times.
Warming centers were established by Steuben County Emergency Management at points throughout the county, but mainly in Angola in the event people needed a place to stay warm.