HONOLULU (Reuters) - U.S. President-elect Barack Obama was without electricity for 12 hours at his vacation home on Oahu after a suspected lightning strike blacked out Hawaii’s most populous island, an aide said on Saturday.
The outage on Friday night left hundreds of thousands of people, including Obama and his family, in the dark as an electrical storm rolled over the island. The Obamas are staying at a heavily guarded beachfront villa in eastern Oahu.
“Power was restored to the residence during the 6 o’clock hour this morning. The Obama family is grateful for the offers of assistance from local officials,” said Ben Labolt, a spokesman for Obama.
Those offers included a generator from the Hawaiian Electricity Company, but an Obama aide said the family did not use one. It was not immediately clear why.
No additional security measures were visible on Friday night at the compound, which is guarded by Secret Service agents, and no attempt was made to move the Obamas through darkened streets to a nearby Marine Corps military base.
Hawaiian Electricity Company spokesman Peter Rosegg said power had been restored to most of the island, home to about 900,000 people, by Saturday afternoon. Full restoration should be completed by nightfall, he said.
The cause of the outage was still not known, but it may have been due to an electrical storm that knocked out four power transmission lines, he said.
Bill Brennan, spokesman for Honolulu, said Mayor Mufi Hannemann relayed a message to the president-elect’s beachfront villa between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on Friday asking whether the Obamas needed anything.
“He said they were fine, safe and secure and thank you for asking,” Brennan said.
Obama, who was born in Hawaii, arrived for a 12-day vacation with his family on December 20. The Obamas are in Kailua with close friends from Chicago and their families.
The outage knocked out traffic lights and snarled traffic on major roads. In Waikiki, the hub of Hawaii’s tourist industry, guests left their hotels in search of food and water. Lines formed outside convenience stores, and some had to wait an hour to buy supplies.