Lights went out and internet connection went down campus-wide at approximately 10:45 a.m. last Wednesday, leaving professors to lecture in the dark and students to wonder if they would still have class.
Facilities Department Director, Jerry Haba, believes the outage originated in an underground cable between Catherine and Anselm Halls. “We think there’s a weak portion in the cable,” Haba said. “A surge or something did it in. Things just happen with electricity.”
Haba said that in order to test the cable to see whether or not it was compromised, the Facilities Department will need to shut off power to campus for 3-4 hours in the next few weeks. “We’re trying to work around everyone’s schedules to find the best day,” Haba said.
The outage is tentatively scheduled for Oct. 11. The cable has been taken offline in the meantime.
Offices around campus raced to work around the lack of power and internet.
“I was impressed with the entire university community during this emergency,” Charlie Steadman, director of Campus Safety, said.
The Office of Campus Safety prepared for this kind of incident, he said, and followed the plan already in place for such emergencies.
This plan included providing extra security officers around campus and utilizing a supply store of lamps and flashlights (equipped with plenty of extra batteries).
Officer Steadman said that the CSO office has an outside telephone and an emergency cell phone that could be used in the case of such a power outage. Both of these numbers were sent out in the emergency notifications to the university community.
In addition, 4G tablets and radios aided in continued communication despite the power outage.
“Communication in a crisis is critical,” Officer Steadman said.
West Hall Resident Assistant, Katie McIntyre, praised the sense of organization across campus during the outage.
“Overall, Dore [Madere] and the entire Office of Student Life should be commended for their attention to detail in providing a safe community for UD students,” McIntyre said.
RAs were informed of increased CSO presence on campus and began to take further precautions in the halls. For example, each RA was provided with a flashlight and instructed to stay in their respective halls throughout the night.
Dining Services also came up with short-term and long-term plans following the outage.
“We moved lunch into Haggar foyer and continued our Wednesday tradition of chicken fried steak,” Dining Services Manager, Kyle Wilson, said. “We then went to a cold dinner, a deli buffet with sandwiches and salads.”
Staff then proceeded to clean up and move supplies from Haggar basement in the dark.
“Facilities worked hard and got a generator to keep our coolers and freezers going,” Wilson said. “Everything really worked.”
Power came back permanently on campus late Wednesday evening after a brief return in the early afternoon, but Wilson had planned ahead in case the outage lasted longer.
“We reached out to [Aramark] at [the University of Texas at Arlington] to bring hot meals over to campus,” Wilson said.