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Main Street out of luck, out of power

Leaders couldn't do business in City Hall on Tuesday. The chocolatier couldn't make chocolate. And the Irish pub couldn't keep the beer cold.

City Hall and more than half a dozen businesses on Main Street had no power Tuesday, and it could be Saturday before things are up and running again, said Cherie Jacobs, Progress Energy spokeswoman.

"We don't want people to misunderstand us," she said. "Of course we're working right now. We're giving a drop-dead deadline of Saturday at midnight."

Assistant City Manager Maureen Freaney said she was unsure when the power would come back on in City Hall. Employees spent Monday and Tuesday working in other offices, she said. The city does not have a generator to power the City Hall building.

"We know things are coming on as we speak," said Freaney, who worked from the Emergency Operations Center. "The Hale Center has just come up. The library has just come back, and the chamber. The worst case scenario (for the others) is Saturday."

When it comes to getting power back, businesses are not treated differently from homeowners, Jacobs said.

"A customer is a customer," she said. "We can't give priorities to particular businesses versus residences. I don't believe it's broken down that way."

While power was being restored to some businesses late Tuesday, others remained in the dark.

Some of the owners tried to keep going anyway.

Kelly Slawinski used a generator to keep Kookie Krums, her cookie bouquet shop, open. She had three outlets: phone, freezer, convection oven. When she needed to use the cash register, she had to unplug something else.

"You have to do what you have to do," Slawinski said. "During Frances, I lost $500 worth of product and sales. I can't afford to lose that much again."

Anna and Steve Cooke, who own an advertising agency, had a generator for their computer but no Internet access.

"We're pulling off some miracles here," Anna Cooke said. "We're going to do the best we can. Hopefully, our clients will understand. There is a client that has a big presentation tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll have 90 percent of what they need."

Loss of business because of power loss is generally not covered under regular business insurance, said State Farm spokesman Tom Hagerty. He said his agency recently began utility interruption coverage, which is optional, to cover loss of business because of a power outage.

Trina Cooney, who owns Flanagan's Irish Pub, said the pub has suffered through Sept. 11, the smoking ban and two hurricanes. Dunedin Wines the Blues, normally a big moneymaker for the pub, was a washout. Only 5,000 people showed up Saturday, compared with 40,000 in previous years.

She is hoping to be compensated for $5,000 worth of food and four or five days without business.

"We were going to have a fundraiser tomorrow night for the people in Punta Gorda," she said. "I was expecting 150 people. That's not going to happen. Last week was horrible because people were preparing for Frances.

"It's just scary. I'm not saying we're going to close. But it's going to put us closer to it."

At least one business remained open despite the loss of power. Wendy Lee Margo, the owner of Dunedin Needlepoint, was sewing the bottom on a knitted purse inside her shop.

Her one complaint: It was too hot.

"I'm about to leave," she said. "I'm going to put a note on the door telling people they can call my cell phone if they need knitting help."

Megan Scott can be reached at 445-4167 or mscottsptimes.com.

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