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Franklin Towers residents elated to once again have full power

Residents on floors 7-16 had only been receiving low-load power to their apartments for roughly three weeks after it's believed the building was struck by lightning.

PORTLAND, Maine — "It's just wonderful to be able to use the stove," Michael Mancini said.

Mancini and more than one hundred others that live at Franklin Towers in Portland once again are receiving full power to their units

"It's wonderful to be able to use the kitchen like a normal person, and the thing was, it felt like you were deserted before. When the electricity goes, you just don't know what to do with yourself," Mancini said.

It's been more than a month since residents on floors 7-16 of the building have had full use of their appliances. 

According to leaders with Portland Housing Authority, which manages the apartment building for older adults and people with disabilities, it's believed the building was struck by lightning during a powerful storm in late August.

"I think everybody feels like they have their life back. I know there were a lot of hoots that went off in my office when the announcement came in," Portland Housing Authority Executive Director Cheryl Sessions said. 

Sessions said when the building was reportedly hit by lightning, it knocked out power to the facility. Floors one through six had a replacement of its electrical system completed over the summer, and power was back turned back on for those floors in about one day.

It took roughly a week for residents on floors 7-16 to begin receiving any power directly to their rooms. Staff had provided extension cords for residents to help power any necessary medical devices or refrigerators. 

For roughly three weeks, those upper floors were only receiving low-load power, which officials said was enough to keep fridges running, but not enough to power a stove or air conditioner. 

According to Sessions, electricians had to navigate around serious damage to a power delivery system on the ninth floor during the repair process. Sessions added that floors seven through nine had to be individually wired to restore power, which added time to the restoration process.

"Every time we switch a floor on, we have a group of maintenance people who go through switching the breaker on to the stoves, make sure the stoves are plugged in an are working," Sessions said. 

"I was just terrified that it was going to off again, but it didn't — they really fixed everything," Mancini said.

Power was turned back on for all residents on Thursday. Sessions said full replacement of the upper floors' electrical system will still be needed, and they'll begin planning that project soon.

"We'll focus on that immediately. We'll also focus on having some additional lightning grounding on the roof," Sessions said. 

One of the building's two elevators is still down, however, that's unrelated to the outage and is undergoing planned upgrades. Sessions expects that it will be completed next month.

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