Power outage impacts campus
By Nadira Wicaksana
One week after the initial power outage, electricity will be restored to Hemenway Annex and Hemenway Labs on Friday, Nov. 3, according to Daniel Magazu, director of communications.
Restoration of power was delayed because, due to a storm over the weekend, there were widespread outages across 320,000 Massachusetts homes and business. As a result of overwhelming demand, Eversource, the University’s electricity provider, was not able to commit to a date and time for repairs until midweek.
According to Magazu, in order to perform the repairs, the east side of campus – all buildings on the same side of State Street as May Hall – as well as O’Connor Hall, will be shut down around 12:30 p.m. and will remain without power for approximately four to five hours. Due to the shutdown, all classes starting after 12:20 p.m. on Friday have been canceled, regardless of location.
Students and faculty across campus were stunned when electricity was suddenly cut off to the majority of buildings, interrupting academic activities and impacting residential life on Oct. 27.
The electrical outage was due to three blown fuses on a main service panel. The outage impacted 15 buildings, “including more than 1,100 residence hall beds and the central heating plant,” according to a report from the facilities department.
According to a statement from Residence Life released 1:20 a.m. on Oct. 29, “Larned Hall, Corinne Hall Towers, Horace Mann and Peirce Halls remain without power. Emergency power generators are operational and providing emergency lighting, but no power or lighting is provided to resident rooms through generator power.”
An alert sent on the FSUgo app at 11:28 p.m. on Friday said, “Power may not be restored until morning.”
Immediately following the outage, University facilities personnel called Eversource.
According to the facilities report, Eversource testing determined the problem was not with their services, but located somewhere on campus.
Facilities personnel then contacted Electrical Engineering and Service Company (EESCO), a high-voltage contractor, that identified the location of the outage source around 10:00 p.m.
It was a failed switch serving two buildings: Hemenway Annex and Labs. EESCO then isolated the switch, restoring power to all affected buildings, except Hemenway Annex and Labs, at approximately 3:00 a.m.
According to Dale Hamel, executive vice president, the cost estimate for contractors and equipment is $25,000. This figure does not include additional staff overtime and other costs relating to staff, but “whatever is needed to move the repair along will be supported,” said Hamel.
After the outage, the University sent out preliminary alerts on the FSUgo app notifying students of the current state of the problem. Students were also told not to use elevators until the power was fully restored.
Classes were canceled that Friday, Oct. 27 due to a lack of lighting and computer and internet access. Some students said they had been taking exams when the power went out, leading professors to halt exams and cancel the rest of classes.
Senior Lauren Beaudoin was in her Advanced Apparel Construction class in Hemenway Hall Friday afternoon when the power went out.
Midway through a stitch, Beaudoin’s fabric got stuck inside one of the classroom’s sewing machines the second the power went out. Unable to continue her work, Beaudoin said she had to yank out the fabric and the professor canceled the rest of class.
Exiting her class in May Hall, freshman Morgan Tumminelli said she ended up accidentally hitting herself in the face as she opened the door when the lights went out.
She also said she heard a loud boom, which she described as sounding like a car accident.
“It sounded like something crashed, like somebody hit something,” she said.
Walking the pathway from North Hall to Corinne Hall Towers Friday afternoon, senior Marquise Bartlee-Brown also took note of the loud noise and said he saw black smoke coming from a light post situated between O’Connor and North halls.
“It was for a couple of seconds,” he said. “It wasn’t on Pre. It just fizzed out.”
Junior Garrett Fillion said his professor, Demetrios Brellas, was stuck in the elevator for 30 minutes before being freed.
“He ended up having to cancel [class] because without power, he couldn’t use the lecture slides,” Fillion said.
Sophomore Robert Johnson briefly left campus on Friday before the outage happened, but came back, hands full with heavy bags of groceries, to a non-functional elevator in his residence hall. “I had to walk up four flights of stairs in Larned,” he said.
Students were notified via the FSUgo app and email throughout the week to check with their instructors for updated class information. Updates were also posted on the University website, Facebook page and Twitter feed.
During the week following the outage, Hemenway Annex and Labs continued to run on emergency generator power, restricting academic activities. However, Hemenway Hall had power, through which American Disability Act access to Hemenway Annex and Labs was provided.
Inadequate and nonexistent hallway, bathroom and classroom lighting in the two buildings has led to difficulty in conducting classes. In an email to faculty advising them about the status of the buildings, Margaret Carroll, dean of science, technology, engineering and math, said, “Hallway emergency lighting is good. Bathrooms in Hemenway Hall have power.”
Carroll joked, “Maybe students could use the lighter app on their cell phones and hold them in the air during particularly inspiring parts of class.”
The lack of electricity in the Hemenway Annex and Labs, which house many science classes and labs, has been a concern especially for STEM majors. “Most labs can’t be done without electricity,” said Carroll.
Carroll added even though labs have been canceled, the college has “been able to accommodate many class relocation requests.”