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More than half of Franklin Towers apartments without power

According to Portland Housing Authority, 126 apartments on floors 7-16 are still without power following a strong storm Friday.

PORTLAND, Maine — More than half of the apartments inside of Franklin Towers in Portland are without power, and could remain that way for up to two weeks. 

According to the Portland Housing Authority, which oversees the 200 unit building, it's believed a lightning strike during a powerful storm on Friday caused the outage.

"Witnesses said they saw a big flash of lightning and the power went out," Cheryl Session, the executive director of the Portland Housing Authority said. 

According to Sessions, the outage is impacting apartments on floors 7-16 of Franklin Towers. The building offers subsidized apartments to older adults and people with disabilities. 

According to Sessions, it could be one to two weeks before parts arrive to fix the portion of the 50 year old building's electrical system.

"There are some short fixes that the electricians and the engineer believe they can do, but even getting the parts for those may take some time," Sessions said. 

In the meantime, Sessions says that the Portland Housing Authority has provided extension cords for the residents to help keep things like refrigerators and medical equipment powered. 

There is power in the hallway, however a piece of equipment known as the 'bus bar' has been damaged and needs to be replaced, which is a longer-term fix, according to Sessions.

"Its not easy living this way, but that's the way it is right now," Elmer Pepin said. 

Pepin is one of the hundreds of residents inside of Franklin Towers. While he understands the situation and the reasons behind delays, he says it's still frustrating.

"I ain't too happy with what we're going through, but we've got to deal with it," Pepin said. 

The Portland Housing Authority has been providing meals to those impacted by the outage. They are also offering additional accommodations to those with medical concerns. 

"When you're there with no electricity at night, it can bothersome so we are sourcing batteries, lights, and things now and really doing whatever we can to keep people comfortable," Sessions said. 

"Last night my thermostat said 92, and there's no air circulation so I didn't get a wink of sleep," Michael Dunton, a resident of Portland Towers said. "It looks like a wiring mess."

Sessions says electrical equipment for lower floors in the building was replaced recently due to damage caused by flooding. Upgrades are planned, though it's unclear when a long-term fix for the current power issue will be completed.

Sessions adds that rent will not be reduced for impacted residents, and it will too challenging to move all that impacted to hotels during the busy summer months. 

"These things do wear out over time, when it's exposed to a lightning flash, I'm it's quite the overload," Sessions said. 

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