UPDATE | Power goes out, but Bainbridge rolls with it

The show must go on.

That was the sentiment, mostly, after a midday power outage cut electricity to nearly 5,000 homes and businesses on Bainbridge Island Tuesday.

Melinda Cox was belting out the final verses of a song from “My Fair Lady” with the Evergreen Singers at the Bainbridge Island Senior Center when the lights went out.

The outage prompted an early end to rehearsals. So where does one go, when the music’s over?

Larry Eyler arrived with an idea.

“I said, ‘C’mon, let’s go camping,’” he recalled as the pair decided to head north.

They stopped at the Bainbridge Public Library, and with the help of a borrowed battery-powered lantern, they started to peruse an aisle of movies on DVD. They were looking for a history flick, they said.

Staff at the Bainbridge branch kept their doors open during the outage and were checking out books the old-fashioned way — by hand, pencil and pad.

Library visitors searched the book racks with flashlights and lanterns, while others sat near the windows with books and magazines and nothing to give them pause, other than the occasional comma in their reading material.

Lisa Racine, youth services librarian, said no morning programs were impacted, and the rest of the day’s activities should continue.

She hoped.

“The show should go on, unless we can’t see anything,” she joked.

Approximately 4,570 homes and businesses on Bainbridge Island went dark just before 12 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 6, according to Puget Sound Energy.

The outage area extended from the north shore of Eagle Harbor all the way north past Manitou Beach.

Many businesses along High School Road closed their doors during the outage, with managers and employees at some of the banks near the Island Village Shopping Center turning customers away at the door.

Cooks at nearby restaurants gathered on the sidewalks outside their businesses, making small talk with people they couldn’t feed.

Randy Rosas, a staff member at The Plate & Pint restaurant in the Island Village Shopping Center, said the power outage came at the worst possible time for the eatery: the lunch rush.

“We have around like three customers inside,” he said at about 12:45 p.m.

“They’re still here, but other than that, right when the power went out, the [cars in the] parking lot went away.

“Nobody’s been coming in, coming out.”

Rosas, of Poulsbo, said the restaurant was tentatively closed for the day. The coolers and freezers would not be opened until the power came back on. The cooking equipment was turned off, as well.

“We got to stay healthy,” he said. “Pretty much we can’t serve anything because the kitchen, if we keep things on it will get too hot and it’s not good protocol.”

For staffers like himself, Rosas added, it was doubly harmful for the restaurant to be without power.

“No customers, no paycheck,” he said. “Hours and wages, tips. “Right now we’re pretty much just trying to clean up and close up stuff.”

Across the parking lot at the Starbucks, customers were met with a sign: “We have had to close our store at this time. We are working to open back up as soon as possible. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience.”

The traffic signals were also dark at the Highway 305 intersections in Winslow, slowing midday traffic to a slow crawl in some spots. Drivers who didn’t wait their turn were greeted with honking horns from other motorists.

Classes continued as planned in schools near High School Road, according to the Bainbridge Island School District.

The outage had a major impact, however, at the Bainbridge Island Aquatic Center.

Mark Benishek, recreation division director for the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District, said two swim team practices for the Bainbridge Aquatic Masters were canceled, keeping approximately 50 swimmers out of the water.

The pools were also closed to lap swimming, and family swim time was called off, too.

“That usually has pretty good attendance, with moms and toddlers, Benishek said of family swim time.

The aquatic center is also heavily used by Bainbridge’s liveaboard boat community, and those residents use the center for showers, the steam room and spa — plus to keep warm — on cold days.

“It is a large impact,” Benishek said of the closure. “It’s usually one of the largest gathering facilities on the island, outside of the school district.”

He said it was unusual that the park district offices at Strawberry Park on High School Road still had power, while the aquatic center did not.

“This is really rare for the pool to be out, and not the Strawberry offices,” Benishek said.

PSE said the cause of the outage was under investigation.

The utility did not give an estimate on when power would be restored.