Downtown Businesses Lose Money After Sewer Fire

OMAHA (kptm) - Power has been restored in downtown Omaha but earlier today it caused chaos for not only the drivers but businesses as well.

Nearly two thousand people were without power for nearly 24 hours while OPPD crews worked around the clock to restore service. The majority of downtown Omaha is back on now, but earlier the lack of working street lights and traffic lights as well as the fog made downtown dangerous. And dozens of businesses lost money having to close today.

WheatFields Deli Manager, Mary Magli says, "uh, I pulled a lot. I pulled everything that wasn't a vegetable or a bread product, basically everything has to go."

Magli has been moving food all day in the dark. Frozen items normally kept in the freezer had to go. Hundreds of desserts all loaded on a truck, even the tiramisu was taken. "like cheesecakes, ya know, we have beautiful cheesecakes that are just wonderful here and I had to pull all the cheesecakes I had to pull anything with any form, anything that would cause an illness, if it's not kept cold and fresh and all that," Magli says.

At WheatFields, the food is made fresh and after the power went out they scrambled into action to save whatever they could. Even though they couldn't serve downtown customers, they sent the majority to another location in hopes that it would be eaten. "Well I feel bad. We've had a lot of people pulling on the doors waiting for us to be open, but can't be open if we can't serve food," Magli says.

While many downtown businesses stayed closed due to the lack of power others chose to remain open and worked in the dark. Homers Store Manager, Eric Ziegler says, "I'm working. Ya know people have to have their music so even if there's no power and I have to play music through a little boom box or Walkman, I'll sell music today."

With flashlight in hand, Ziegler sorts through thousands of CD's. He can't answer the phone or use the cash register but he can reorganize the store and help customers. "Ya know I have to do everything by flashlight or by whatever light comes in through the window, I have to add everything up by calculator, I have to work on my math skills to calculate tax so ya know add that 7% onto all the sales that we've had today, it's old school record store stuff," Ziegler says.

Keeping busy while working without power.

Again the majority of the power downtown has been restored. Many businesses were even open this evening. Most of the traffic lights are in working order. With just one exception, the light at 17th and Saint Mary's is still out.