Power out for days at Royal Oak city buildings after storms

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published July 30, 2019

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ROYAL OAK — Multiple Royal Oak city buildings were left without power due to storm-related issues beginning Saturday, July 20. Most issues were resolved on Wednesday, July 23.

The affected buildings included Royal Oak City Hall, the Police Department, the farmers market, the 44th District Court and the Royal Oak Public Library.

“It was a huge challenge for us,” said Royal Oak Police Chief and acting City Manager Corrigan O’Donohue. “We did everything we could to get City Hall up and running, but when we’re dealing with a building this old, there are no simple solutions.”

He said the city brought in a couple of huge generators to power the Police Department and City Hall, but there were a number of issues with them.

“Every time it seemed like we got the power up, something would go down, whether it be the air conditioning or the circuit for the security garage,” O’Donohue said.

While the city was able to hold the City Commission meeting and a work session to discuss recreational marijuana businesses during the evening of Monday, July 22, power was limited. The microphones and computers were down.

“It was kind of old-school style,” O’Donohue said. “We had to print up actual paper agendas, which was unfortunate, and we had to film it on camera so we could play it later.”

Mayor Michael Fournier’s State of the City address, originally scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, at the Royal Oak Farmers Market, was canceled due to a lack of power. The event has been rescheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15. Tickets purchased for July 23 are still valid for the rescheduled event.

With the phones and computers down, the city opted to close City Hall to the public Monday and Tuesday. While some city employees had the days off, O’Donohue said others put in a “tremendous” amount of hours, specifically the Information Technology Department and the electrician and support staff from the Department of Public Service.

He added that the Treasurer’s Office would work with any residents who had water bills due while the city offices were closed. To learn more, call the Treasurer’s Office at (248) 246-3149.

In a July 26 phone interview, Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids said that City Hall was still having some problems with outlets and electrical issues, but the power was, for the most part, back on and running.

“It was quite the process, like reaching out to employees,” she said. “We had power briefly on Tuesday, but then it went out as soon as we told employees to come in.”

Davids said employees were just catching up, but some areas were without working outlets, so staff had been in and out of offices with electricity to charge cellphones.

“The building is from the 1950s and they definitely didn’t have the requirements for so many things to have electricity that they do today,” she said. “It’s a bit of a road map to figure things out here, like one of the two elevator shafts is used for our network.”

She said she had never experienced anything like the extended power outage in her five years of working with the city, but that it had made staff rethink how it communicates in the event of emergencies, and the value of generators.

“We do hear we’re going to have some technology upgrades (in the new City Hall) building, which I think will be really great,” Davids said. “We’re kind of limited as to what we can do here, because we do have an older building that comes with its own unique charm but also is not prepared for the modern world in a lot of ways.”

The new City Hall is slated to be open in mid-summer 2020, followed shortly by the new Police Department.

For more information, visit www.romi.gov or call Royal Oak City Hall at (248) 246-3000.

Call Staff Writer Sarah Wojcik at (586) 218-5006.