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Wesel Boulevard retailers resourceful during power outage

August 15, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The managers of some Wesel Boulevard businesses used ingenuity to remain open Friday when a snake became entangled in electrical wires and caused a power outage to most of the area.

Justin Markley, manager of Office Depot at 1520 Wesel Blvd., said customers were given flashlights so they could see to shop when the lights went out.

"People were bound and determined to spend money," Markley said.

Todd Meyers, a spokesman for Allegheny Power, said the power outage occurred at about 11:30 a.m. when a snake slithered down a manhole near Lowe's, became entangled in some wires and temporarily cut the power to about 54 customers. Most of those customers were commercial, Meyers said.

"I don't know what kind of snake it was ... Just that it was black," said Meyers, referring to the snake's charred remains.

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Power was restored to several of the stores at about 1 p.m., Meyers said. The problem was fixed about an hour later.

Bill Cosner, manager of Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse at 1500 Wesel Blvd., said a generator kept the lights on at the store, but a glitch caused Lowe's computer system to go down. Because the cash registers are computerized, the employees had to get creative to keep things going.

As customers went through the checkout lines, employees ran back to the aisles, wrote down the prices of the merchandise and returned with a list, Cosner said. Cashiers then used a calculator to add up the prices and calculate the sales tax.

"We will always be open for customers," Cosner said. "The customers were very patient. The employees were just great."

Cosner said credit card transactions were a little more difficult to handle because employees had to write down the account numbers, all the while being careful not to make a mistake. In the time that the computers were down, Cosner said, about 300 customers were served.

Traffic lights also were without power on parts of Wesel Boulevard, a spokeswoman for the Hagerstown Police Department said Friday. During that time, Hagerstown Fire Police directed traffic until the power was restored.

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