LEWISTON – Power to a handful of local businesses, including the Sun Journal, went off at about 8:15 p.m. Thursday and was not restored until 2 hours later.

The problem, according to a CMP official, was a switch at a substation on Mill Street in Lewiston. The switch failed to close as it was supposed to, causing random outages downtown.

While power crews worked to correct the problem, editors at the Sun Journal were facing chaos. Computer screens went dark when the power died. Telephone systems stopped working. Reporters working in far away towns were unable to send stories for publication.

Newspaper executives came from home to help manage the dilemma. Editors huddled together planning out a strategy. In the end, all they could do was wait for the power to come back on. That occurred about 10:45 p.m.

“This hit us at the worst possible time,” said Executive Editor Rex Rhoades. “We had a large paper, and we had just begun doing pages for the next day’s paper. On top of that, we were in the midst of adapting to a new newsroom computer system.

“It was a tough night,” Rhoades said, “but our folks pulled together, did the best with what they had and got the newspaper out.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the city went largely unaffected.

“It’s hard to tell there’s even a problem out there,” said police officer Todd MacWhinnie. “We haven’t had any complaints from anybody.”

Some businesses on lower Lisbon Street were without power but those businesses were closed. Most street lights stayed illuminated. Traffic control devices did not stop working.

In Auburn, police said they were unaware of the problem altogether.

“I haven’t heard anything,” said police Lt. Paul Labarre. “As far as I know, we haven’t had a single problem here at all.”

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