COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Almost a quarter million homes and businesses across Ohio remained without power Saturday, one week after a huge storm blacked out large swaths of the state.
The remnants of Hurricane Ike battered Ohio last Sunday, knocking out electrical service for 2.6 million customers.
Cincinnati-area Duke Energy officials insisted workers would restore power by weekend's end to customers in the southwest corner of the state. About 85,000 of their customers remained without power Saturday.
We have entered a very tedious phase of the restoration process, Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky President Sandra Meyer said in a statement. Much of the outage work is now focused on restoring power to smaller pockets of customers.
Columbus-based American Electric Power on Saturday reported about 77,000 customers still had no power.
Some residents watched with frustration as their neighbors' lights flickered on but not their own. Betty Pence, 85, watched anxiously as utility trucks pulled out of her Columbus neighborhood.
I'd see them leaving and think 'Oh, no, it's not on yet. Don't go,' she said.
Chuck Woolsey approached one crew in Columbus. I'm not complaining, but do you have any idea when our power will be back? he asked.
In northeast Ohio, FirstEnergy Corp. reported hundreds still without power. Dayton Power and Light said about 59,000 customers were without electricity Saturday, with plans to have service restored by Sunday to 90 percent of the 300,000 households that lost power Sept. 14.
Utility administrative centers were flooded with complaints, both by phone and in person.
Wind reaching 78 mph swept across the region last Sunday and at least seven of the 56 deaths blamed on Hurricane Ike were in Ohio. Toppling trees fell on homes, blocked roads and brought down power lines. Long lines formed at gas stations, grocery stores and hardware stores that didn't lose power. Schools and businesses were forced to close for days.
You don't want to mention Duke, said Neil Leist, superintendent of the Clermont Northeastern School District, which was closed all week. I know they have a hard job, but the people are beyond frustrated. No one wants to be last.