ST. PAULS — Crews were working this morning to restore heat, lights and hot water to homes and businesses on West Broad Street in St. Pauls after a single-car accident left two electrical poles on the corner of South Odum Road and Broad Street dangling from the wires to which they were attached.
The car struck the poles shortly before midnight, according to Chris Jackson, captain of the St. Pauls Fire Department. Jackson said it took “a few hours” to remove the car because it was wedged between the poles that were “suspended by power lines.” Pike Electric, of Maxton, cut power to the poles at about 5 a.m. Power is scheduled to be restored by 11:30 a.m. today.
There was not estimate on how many homes and businesses were affected.
The driver of the vehicle was taken by ambulance to Southeastern Regional Medical Center. His name and condition were unavailable this morning. Police Chief Tommy Hagens, stationed near Hardee’s, said he had been on the scene since the accident happened and not had the time to compile a report.
Police were stationed this morning on West Broad Street, blocking through traffic from the intersection of Old Stage Road to the Interstate 95 overpass. Electrical wires lay across the street, and power trucks worked to lift a new pole into place. St. Pauls firefighters kept an eye on the work from their trucks parked at the Shell station, across from McDonalds. Both those businesses were also dark.
Tonya Martinez, clerk at the Marathon service station near the I-95 access ramp, sat in her truck near the station’s front door with the heat running, turning away potential customers who tried to enter the store.
“You can’t go in,” she yelled. “I got no heat, no power, no coffee, nothing inside.”
Across the street, Randy Bridge sat at a table in the darkened lobby of Days Inn. The truck driver, who works for a company in Wilmington, had his truck towed into town Thursday night when it broke down on his way to Atlanta. The shop which had penciled in his repairs was also out of power.
“They don’t have electric over there and they don’t have electric here,” he said with a laugh. “My one-night stay is going to be a little longer than I expected.”
Sam Patel, general manger of the motel, said the power outage had “greatly affected” his 20 guests. He said he would be providing guests with a later check-out time if requested.
“As you can imagine, it’s winter and our guests can’t have coffee, they can’t have a hot shower,” he said. “Some are demanding their money back.”
Eric Allen lives one house down from the corner where the accident happened, but he said he didn’t hear a thing. He got up at about 2 a.m. to see the reflection of blue lights in his window.
“I looked outside, and everything was lit up,” he said.
Allen woke up a few hours later to a house that was steadily growing colder. At 9:15 this morning, a thermometer near his thermostat read 60 degrees.
The 73-year-old is retired, but works part-time in Lumber Bridge. He said he didn’t know what he would do to keep warm, but his plans didn’t include punching a clock.
“I said shoot, I’m just going to call over there and make sure everything’s going OK,” he said. “I don’t have any heat and no coffee to get up and going, and I’m not going to worry with it.”