running a house with one hot and no neutral - didn't know you could do that

Hurricane Matthew dropped a limb on my neighbor's house, jerked two of the three wires down from the pole.
To my surprise he still has power, though just 120, no 240. I had to look again, sure enough it was one hot and the neutral that pulled loose. Usually the neutral is mechanically stronger.
So with no neutral to the meter, current must be going back to the panel on the neutral wires, then out on the safety ground. I guess he has a very good bond of neutral to ground in the panel, and a very effective ground connection outside.
I would have expected a ground to be good enough to trip a breaker, but I wouldn't have trusted it to actually carry current.
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wrote:

With all metal plumbing, it may carry more current than the 2ga 1350 alloy neutral. Ground rod? not so much.
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On Mon, 10 Oct 2016 21:57:06 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

The soil is saturated, so there is a good ground (NOW). When things dry up, this may change....
Personally, I'd pull the main breaker until this is fixed.
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Be careful, one of the dangers is that if the ground connection should fail open, All the previously grounded stuff could become hot. M
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wrote:

I had a bad neutral here a few years ago. Yet, the voltages were staying pretty close to proper (+ or - 10 volts or so). Enough of a problem to know there was a neutral issue, but not bad enough to immediately fry things. At one point, I put a clamp-on meter on the cable TV coax and found 30 amps flowing! I usually can't find much good to say about cable companies, but in this case, they saved me from a lot of damaged equipment.
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IIRC, if the two hot lines are balanced well there isn't much current on the neutral bus.
Here, there isn't ANY current on the neutral bus. <grin> But it's flowing somewhere, and it would bother me not to know where.
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