Electrical repairs done at Franklin Towers, but inspections needed before power fully restored

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Sep. 16—Electricians finished repairs to the upper floors of Franklin Towers Friday, but it will take until Tuesday to finish the extensive safety testing needed before electricity is fully restored, a Portland Housing Authority official said Friday.

The housing authority is not offering a new timeline for when residents on the upper floors will be able to use their stoves or air conditioners. The building is home to 210 low-income older and disabled people.

Residents on the seventh through sixteenth floors of the Portland apartment building have been without full power since the building's electrical system failed on Aug. 26 after a thunderstorm.

Cheryl Sessions, the housing authority's executive director, said Thursday that power would be fully restored by the following day. But on Friday, she announced that while electricians had finished installing a new bus bar, which helps distribute power in the building, more safety inspections are needed out of "an abundance of caution."

"The electrician has been working with city inspectors who agree to this prudent approach to assuring that the lighting did not corrupt any other portion of the bus bar, which has not been detected," she said in a prepared statement.

Sessions said there is a chance that testing will reveal more extensive damage, and a permanent repair or replacement may be needed before full power can be restored.

"We cannot rule out future short-term interruptions as testing and interim repairs continue, we are committed to mitigating the disruption for our residents," she said.

The housing authority is also planning rent adjustments that will be determined once power is fully restored, Sessions said.

Power was back on the first six floors of the building after the storm, but repairs to bring power to the upper floors could not be done until a bus bar arrived from New Mexico.

Residents on those upper floors have had limited access to power through several working outlets, but could not use larger appliances like their stoves or air conditioners. The housing authority distributed $100 grocery cards to replace spoiled food.

Sessions said the housing authority will continue to partner with Preble Street to provide meals.

The power outage at Franklin Towers brought to light other issues residents say have long plagued the building, including bugs, leaks, dirty hallways and only one working elevator.

Sessions said Friday that the storm coincided with a planned upgrade of one of the building's two elevators. Work to modernize the elevator is expected to be completed and inspected in early October, she said.