“Just in case you were wondering…Yes, we’re open!” the Aquarium of the Pacific declared via Instagram Thursday morning, some sixteen hours into an overnight power outage in downtown Long Beach that began Wednesday evening and is expected to continue into Friday morning or possibly later.
The Aquarium was one of only a few businesses in downtown Long Beach that were able to remain open Thursday. Most downtown businesses north of Ocean Boulevard continue to remain without power, and the majority are closed. However, shops south of Ocean Boulevard, such as those at the Pike are open and look to remain so for the foreseeable future.
The power outages began with an underground fire Wednesday afternoon. Southern California Edison workers fixing an earlier outage during the day shifted the power to another system and overloaded that system, causing a fire in an underground vault.
Long Beach Firefighters were able to put the fire out and cool the vault to allow workers to continue operations. No injuries were reported.
Most downtown businesses were closed, with the exception of a few that had rented or purchased generators.
Hamburger Mary’s Manager Kevin Kelly said business was down about 80 percent, but his team had a “big night” planned.
“We rented a generator to keep basic business going,” Kelly said, with the kitchen offering limited menu items. “What we have done is unique.”
Thanks to the generators, the restaurant, located at Third and Pine, was able to offer locals the opportunity to charge their cell phones, obtain cash from Hamburger Mary's ATM machines, and use the restaurant's wifi. He said the customer base has largely consisted of people living in neighboring apartments without power.
The 7-Eleven at Broadway and Pine used a similar method to retain business, opening up around 5:45PM Thursday on generators after closing down Wednesday night and into Thursday morning.
“A lot of people were banging on the door when we closed,” said 7-Eleven Manager Sparminder Singh. He said they opened briefly Thursday morning, only to close and reopen on generator power that evening.
With neighboring restaurants closed, Singh said 7-Eleven was experiencing more business than usual, and he was hoping their bustling evening hours would make up for the earlier closure.
downtown Long Beach Associates responded to the outage by using their cell phones for remote communication and ensuring their social media platforms contained pertinent information for downtown residents.
“The DLBA’s an organization like any other; as any other business without power, we can’t operate,” said Kraig Kojian, president and CEO of the DLBA. Instead, the organization was working to "interface with Stakeholders" and make themselves a resource for the community.
Chase Bank, Outfitters, and Starbucks remained closed today, and as the outage passed the 24-hour mark this evening, downtown residents continue to get by without power.
Photos by Stephanie Rivera.