Students struggled to keep warm during snowstorm

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Photo by Peter Burleigh

Meg Crawford slept in front of her family’s fireplace to keep warm, the power out and the cold creeping in everywhere. Like many UD students, the senior commuter was at the mercy of the rolling electrical blackouts that struck during last week’s historic winter storm.  For Crawford, the lights went out at 6:30 a.m. on Feb. 15 in her family’s house in Irving.

Crawford’s family was able to obtain a generator on Monday which powered a furnace. They had additional warmth by lighting their fireplace at night. Still, it wasn’t enough.

“My siblings and I slept in front of [the fire] but it was still 36 degrees in the living room,” she wrote in a text to The University News. 

Crawford’s power outage lasted 12 cold hours.

Due to the inclement weather and its impact on students’ residences, the University of Dallas announced a campus closure on Feb. 14 which was extended every subsequent weekday until Friday, Feb. 19. 

On Tuesday, Crawford’s house had two unannounced periods of power, each for two hours. The power in Crawford’s home came back on at 2 p.m. Wednesday and has remained on. 

“We are truly on the lucky end of things, we’ve had no pipes burst,” Crawford wrote. She described how neighbors had repeatedly checked up on her family and offered support throughout the week.

Crawford was one of many who suffered the effects of the severe weather in the DFW metroplex. Several student apartments on the UD campus lost power starting Monday evening. 

One such student, senior Courtney Nguyen, lost power in her UD apartment.

Nguyen left her apartment for her family’s home in Houston on Thursday, before the blackout. She was planning on returning to the UD Irving campus on the morning of Sunday, Feb. 14. 

Due to the dangerous road conditions during the snowstorm, Nguyen had to turn back towards Houston on Sunday. She heard about her apartment’s power outage from two roommates who remained on campus. 

Although Nguyen was absent from her apartment when the power went out Monday evening,  her family’s home in Houston was also affected by electrical outages and burst water pipes.

“The wifi and water went out on Monday,” Nguyen wrote in a text. However, her family owned a generator from previous hurricanes, so their heater was able to keep them warm. 

Her family also rationed boiled water from their swimming pool to wash dishes, brush their teeth and shower. “For [drinking] water, we were lucky to have cases of water bottles already,” Nguyen wrote.

Nguyen’s house regained Wi-Fi with an unsteady signal on Tuesday; running water returned by Wednesday afternoon. 

Many residents of the student apartments without power, including Nguyen’s roommates, have temporarily moved in with friends or family nearby who still have water and electricity. Other students have depended on the Office of Student Affairs for assistance.

Another student, junior Anna Berumen lost power in her student apartment Monday afternoon and suffered from burst water pipes. 

“I had to stay in Clark until the power at my parents’ house came back on and [they could] pick up me and a few others,” Berumen wrote in a text to The University News on Thursday.

Berumen and her roommates have had to deal with severe water damage since Monday evening. 

“Somehow water came in and iced over our entire kitchen floor,” Berumen wrote. 

Berumen said that the majority of the support her and her roommates received has been from friends and family who have offered food and resources. She did not hear until Thursday morning that the Office of Student Affairs was offering rooms in the dorms and free meals from the cafe. 

“I also have no clue what our apartment is going to look like when the power comes back on and I’m terrified about going back.”

On Monday evening, Residence Coordinator Sarah Baker informed student apartments residents that facilities personnel were currently looking into the power outage in an email.

Baker advised students to find another location to sleep at if their apartment lost power because of the freezing temperatures Monday night. She wrote that students without power could either stay with friends or family on or off campus or request a vacant bed on campus. 

Senior Sam Skinner and his three roommates, likewise lost electricity Monday evening. Skinner’s apartment also had a leaking pipe that they placed a bucket under to catch the dripping water.

Skinner and his roommate, senior Joseph Piescik, spent two nights in the apartment while their other two roommates moved in with friends Tuesday, Feb. 16. 

“Wednesday morning, some people from OSA, like Sarah Baker and a couple of other people, came by and they were asking how everybody was doing,” Skinner said. 

Baker and the other OSA staff offered a vacant room in Clark Hall to Skinner and Piescik, after Skinner and his roommates first read but had not seriously considered Baker’s offer of another room in the email sent Monday evening. The two roommates decided to accept and they relocated to a vacant suite in Clark Hall on Wednesday. 

“It’s unfortunate that we’re missing so much class,” Skinner said. “It’s been difficult, because there wasn’t really somewhere to go back to, but now that I’m in Clark, it’s much more helpful to have somewhere to go that’s warm.”

On Feb. 20, the power was returned to the student apartments. 

Due to the severity of the water damage in some apartments, the water is still shut off in two apartment complexes as facilities repair the water pipes. 

Students who have relocated to campus dorms or are living with friends and family are uncertain when they can return to their student apartments.

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