Vehicle Crash Wednesday In Hastings Knocks Out Power Utilities

Hastings City Logo

City of Hastings first responders and electric distribution personnel responded to a vehicle crash on the morning of April 17 that damaged multiple utility poles and caused a power outage affecting south central and southwest Hastings.

A pickup truck driven by 37-year-old Jeremy Hartman of Hastings, was traveling eastbound on West A Street, approaching Burlington when at around 9 a.m., the vehicle left the roadway. The vehicle left the roadway on the west side of Burlington Avenue, taking out the base of the pole on the southwest corner of the intersection. The vehicle then crossed Burlington Avenue and struck a pole on the southeast corner of the intersection.

Power comes in from the east at that intersection and crosses to the west and north through underground lines that connect to that pole. When the pole on the east side of Burlington was struck that connection was damaged and areas to the west and north of South Burlington and A Street were without power. About 250 electric meters indicated an outage during the event. Electric distribution personnel were able to restore power by rerouting the system in that area within a few minutes for customers north of the crash side who lost electricity. Because the pole on the west side of the intersection was completely knocked out, creating a safety hazard with sagging wires, the feeder serving a larger area southwest of the crash site was turned off to facilitate replacement of the pole and other damaged equipment. Eleven electric distribution personnel were dispatched to the outage. Typically, only two line workers are dispatched to a power outage. Power was restored for all affected customers by 11:50 a.m., but electric distribution crews were on site several hours afterward.

Hastings Utilities, Hastings Police Department, Hastings Fire and Rescue and the Hastings Street Department responded to the incident. Burlington Avenue was closed between A Street and Second Avenue for several hours. Side streets in that area were also closed adjacent to South Burlington Avenue to facilitate the
work. “When it’s a major outage like this, and involves a highway, we’ll put all of the resources we can put into the situation to get it rectified as quickly as possible,” said Noel Nienhueser, Director of Electric Operations for the City of Hastings. The initial accident did not affect the power to the Hastings Police Department or the Hastings 911 Center.

At about 10:15 a.m., the Hastings Police Department and the Hastings 911 Center switched to backup generator power without issue while electric distribution crews worked on the damaged poles. After about 25 minutes, the generator in the Hastings Police Department began to overheat and subsequently shut itself down to prevent permanent damage. At this point, the Hastings Police Department was completely without power and the Hastings 911 Center moved to battery backup for critical equipment only.

The battery backups were quickly depleted and all equipment became inoperative. The Hastings 911 Center emergency procedures were immediately implemented. At this point, the process to re-route 911 phone calls to the Hastings 911 Center back-up emergency phone was initiated and a social media post was made to notify the public to call (402) 300-HELP (4357) if services were needed in the interim. The backup emergency phone
number, (402) 300-HELP, was added earlier this year when several 911 Centers across the state
experienced outages.

A local vendor was contacted and was able to make temporary repairs to the generator. By about 11:45 a.m., the Hastings Police Department and Hastings 911 Center were back running on generator power and resumed normal operations. The public is encouraged to save the phone number (402) 300-HELP. This number is immediately activated any time there is any disruption in the 911 phone services to the Hastings 911 Center.