Responds to Power Outage
was in the dark along with the rest of Marquette
during Sunday's marathon power
outage. But with 2,300 students in the residence halls, some administrators
and staff members did not have the liberty of just “waiting it out.”
They mobilized and came up with some inventive measures to keep
students safe, informed and – perhaps just as importantly – fed.
speaking, students seemed to handle to the challenges of being without
power very well,” said Carl Holm (Housing and Residence
Life). “I saw a lot of them sitting in lounges or lobbies talking
with one another by flashlight. Others were walking around, curious
to see what was going on. We have to give a lot of credit to the
staff who were all 'on duty.' They made themselves available and
were making rounds in their halls with flashlights once it got dark."
said there were some problems in a Meyland Hall mechanical room.
Because the pumps were rendered inoperable, an excess amount of
steam built up in the recreation room, damaging ceiling tile and
setting off a fire alarm. The resulting humidity caused some water
to puddle on the floor as well.
said the blackout, with its duration of nearly 11 hours, was the
worst he has experienced at Northern: “There was another significant
outage back when I was a resident director – maybe in 1974. It didn’t
last as long, but it was dark outside for most of it so it was at
a more critical time. Candles were permitted back then and I remember
everyone walking around with candles. Now it’s flashlights.”
university’s phone system began running on a battery backup after
the power went out Sunday, but it went down completely about 90
minutes later, according to Ken Chant (Public Safety
and Police Services).
order to get it back on line, it took three generators – one at
Cohodas, one at Quad II and one at the LRC,” he said. “ Dave
Maki, Don Salo and Kim Erickson
(AdIT) made a heck of an effort to get it done. They drove
their own vehicles to Midway Rentals and hauled generators back
to campus, where the electricians hooked them up. I can’t say enough
good things about what they did. They kept us updated the whole
time and got the job done.”
safety dispatched staff to each residence hall to verify that each
resident director had cell phone communication capability. Student
employees who typically work special events were also called in
to assist. They were stationed in the residence halls with portable
radios and flashlights to help with communication and to serve as
services had to cook up a quick alternative for feeding students
because local restaurants were – quite literally – powerless to
fill the void.
couple of hours without electricity is one thing, but as the day
wore on, students were getting pretty hungry,” said Andy
Wasilewski (Auxiliary Services). “We ended up taking these
big charcoal cookers that we had, which are essentially barrels
cut in half, and delivered them to the residence halls with charcoal
and food. Dining services employees and residence hall staff, along
with students, were outside cooking up burgers and hot dogs. At
least the students were able to have a warm meal to tide them over.
But we will be looking at the need for generators in the Marketplace.”
one might expect from a university, the sweeping power outage will
serve as a learning experience. It has sparked discussions among
the entities involved as to how Northern might prepare and respond
even more effectively should a similar incident arise in the future.