Anna Hernandez, 59, lives on the eighth floor of Franklin Towers, where power has been out since Friday night. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Portland Housing Authority officials said Tuesday that they are scrambling to help Franklin Towers residents whose apartments have been without power since Friday and may be out as long as two weeks.

Electricity to apartments on the seventh through 16th floors of the Cumberland Avenue high-rise, which provides housing for the elderly and disabled, went out during a thunderstorm Friday afternoon and officials say it could take a week or two to get the part that’s needed to fix the problem. The authority couldn’t say definitively that the storm caused the part to fail, although the outage coincided with the strong thunderstorm.

The outage has affected only apartments in the building and power remains on in the hallways and elevators and safety alarms still have power and are working. Residents have been provided extension cords to plug into hallway receptacles, but that’s intended primarily for running refrigerators so residents’ food doesn’t spoil.

The authority said late Tuesday that its electrical contractors have come up with a “potential temporary solution” that will restore power to two or three outlets in some apartments as early as Wednesday. Authority officials didn’t provide specifics on the patch, but did say that initially it would be limited to apartments on a few floors. They couldn’t immediately say how many floors and how soon power to apartments on other floors might be restored.

Power on the upper floors of Franklin Towers has been off since Friday night. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

The authority also said that a temporary fix to restore all power to all the affected apartments could begin as early as this weekend and said it has located a replacement for the “bus bar” that failed on Friday and is needed to provide a permanent repair. The replacement part is in New Mexico. The housing authority said it has made arrangements for delivery, but it could still be one or two weeks before the replacement is installed. A bus bar is a metallic strip or bar used for local power distribution.



Anna Hernandez, 59, who lives on the eighth floor, said the strain of adapting to living with little electricity was apparently wearing on some residents. She said a few arguments have broken out among those on line for meals that the Housing Authority is providing three times a day.

“We’re all in a crisis right now,” Hernandez said. She counsels other residents to calm down and be patient.

“It can get crazy in there,” she said, nodding toward the 200-apartment building.

Cody Taylor, 21, of Portland, holds a sign up to passing traffic on Cumberland Avenue on Tuesday, outside Franklin Towers, where his mother lives. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

Hernandez, who was getting some fresh air outside the building Tuesday, had some company – Cody Taylor, a 21-year-old artist holding a sign reading “No Power – Save Our Elderes,” in an attempt to gain the attention of motorists passing by on Cumberland Avenue.

Taylor said his mother, Christine Blair, lives on the ninth floor of Franklin Towers and is weathering the power failure well, but he’s concerned about others in the building and wanted to draw attention to the problem.

“I just think that it’s unacceptable,” Taylor said. “I decided I had the time to come out today and speak out for our elders.”

The Housing Authority said it is bringing in food to provide three meals a day for residents of the high-rise. It also has made microwave ovens available in common areas of the building, and residents in affected apartments are getting grocery gift cards, although officials couldn’t immediately say whether they could arrange transportation for residents to stores.

Authority officials also said they are making accommodations for residents who need to charge or use devices for medical conditions and making individual needs assessments.

One resident said Monday that she was told she couldn’t charge an electronic pad that sends information on her medical condition to her doctors three times a week, but the authority said Tuesday it is allowing residents to charge such devices and would arrange for hotel rooms for residents if their medical needs couldn’t be addressed with power from an extension cord to their apartment.

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