“We learned a lot from the last power outage in September 2014,” Mesa View Regional Hospital CEO Patty Holden said about the 17 hour power outage that occurred in Mesquite March 6 and 7 in an interview with the Mesquite Local News.
“We knew from the last time that a lot of people’s lives depend on oxygen. So we had updated our internal disaster plan and it helped a lot,” Holden said. “Our Chief Nursing Officer Nancy Seck who was on call that night immediately notified all the home care and hospice folks along with oxygen supply businesses that we had facilities set up for people to come in and use during the outage. We had anywhere from one to six people throughout the night that came in and used the facilities.”
Holden also said that while they issued a “re-direct” order early Sunday afternoon to local emergency medical services and ambulances “it only lasted two hours and then we removed it. Fortunately there were no emergency patient calls during that time. Our electronic records got knocked out when the power went out but we quickly got it fixed and were able to take ambulance patients.”
Holden said the hospital is equipped with enough generating power to operate at 50 percent capacity for up to 96 hours. The emergency power kicked in appropriately when the outage originally occurred even though she said there was a slight problem in Radiology that was immediately overcome.
“Our team really pulled together and made a long night bearable. We had some fresh food and cold food losses but they were minimal,” Holden said.
On the other side of town, Smith’s grocery store weathered the outage fairly well according to store manager Alan Rasmussen.
“It surprised us Monday morning how many people depend on that first cup of coffee,” he said. “We had one pot constantly brewing and a line of people back past the bakery.”
Rasmussen said he was able to get a company generating truck from Las Vegas that kept the store running through the power outage. “We had to turn away two tour buses full of people that stopped here just after the outage began. We didn’t know how long the electricity would be out and it was pretty dark inside. We didn’t want to take any chances,” he said.
Store employees hung plastic curtains along the cold cases to keep the cold in and protect the food. “We were only able to sell dry goods and lots of batteries,” Rasmussen said. “But we didn’t lose a lot of food like we did during the last major outage.”
Eureka Casino Resort Chief Operating Officer Andre Carrier told the MLN that the power outage caused many of the hotel guests they would have had to go elsewhere. “During one of our busiest weekends because of the NASCAR race in Vegas, we lost close to 100 guests who would have stayed here.”
During power outages, no restaurants are allowed to serve hot food according to Southern Nevada Health District regulations. “Rules and regulations are in place that don’t allow us to do certain things with food and give us guidelines to follow in situations like this. But who shows up on our doorstep early Monday morning? The health inspectors making sure we followed their rules. It was pretty frustrating,” Carrier said.
The casino has enough generators on the property to run the operation at 100 percent. But about five hours into the outage, Carrier said one of the generators blew up and the casino was only able to run about 50 percent of its power to the gaming machines.
“We were surprised to find so many people coming to the casino because it still had power,” Carrier said. “We seemed to be a community gathering point during the outage.”
All three businesses said they never heard from Overton Power District officials at any time during the 17 hour power outage.