Electricians have restored limited power to apartments on one floor of Franklin Towers, where more than half of the tenants in the Portland Housing Authority apartment building for older and disabled residents have been without electricity since Friday.

The electricians were able to use a workaround to provide some power to apartments on the 15th floor early Wednesday afternoon and expected to do the same for units on the 16th floor before the end of the day, said Cheryl Sessions, the housing authority’s executive director. Power has been out on floors seven through 16 since Friday, when a strong thunderstorm swept through the city.

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

The building, which was built in 1969, provides 200 apartments for older people and those with disabilities. It’s unclear how many residents are affected by the outage.

Sessions said the electricians were able to feed power back through the circuit breakers to the two floors and that will provide enough electricity for residents to use two or three outlets in their apartments. Sessions said there isn’t enough electricity to provide power for stoves, hot plates or air conditioners during the workaround, but residents are able to turn on lights and charge electronic devices.

Electricity in the hallways, to elevators and to power safety systems has not been affected and the Portland Housing Authority has given tenants extension cords to connect with hallway outlets to keep their refrigerators running.

Sessions said the electricians also said they have been doing prep work for powering up other floors and may be able to restore some electricity to more than two floors a day on Thursday and Friday. But she said she’s not sure if those workers will work through the weekend if some floors remain without electricity after Friday.



And, she said, the replacement for a part that failed during a thunderstorm last week is expected to be delivered Friday. In the meantime, electricians are also working on preparing to put in that part, called a “bus bar,” as soon as it arrives, Sessions said.

“We hope to have it on Friday and, assuming (the electrical contractor) can get an overtime crew together, we will proceed” with repairs over the holiday weekend, she said.

In the meantime, the authority is continuing to provide meals for the residents in the building. Three meals a day are being delivered by the Preble Street Resource Center and served by volunteers, Sessions said.

The Housing Authority has also set up microwave ovens in common areas for residents to use and provided air conditioning in two meeting rooms on the first floor for residents to use as a cooling center. The building doesn’t have central air conditioning, but many tenants have window air-conditioning units in their apartments.

The authority also said it has been working with residents who have medical conditions to make sure they can power any devices they may need. Officials had previously said that they will move residents to hotel rooms if they are unable to be accommodated in the building.

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