A power outage surprised residents of Gerard and Bonaventure Halls shortly after noon on Saturday, Sept. 8, lasting until around 8 p.m. An outage was scheduled that day for the library and Prep Hall in connection with the library construction; however, Gerard and Bonaventure were not intended to be affected.
Douglas Eppley, Saint Vincent College director of facilities, explained that the unintentional outage was due to this, procedure established by the library project’s engineer, being complicated and dangerous.
“It was very complicated, and it was very dangerous,” Eppley said. “We’re talking 12,500 volt electricity. It’s not like your house. So it had to be preplanned, there had to be safety measures in place to keep the workers safe.”
Eppley used an “electrical map” which indicates where the electricity lines are on campus. Electricity for the whole campus begins at one location and is delivered to each building via transformers that are spread throughout the campus.
“In one of these [transformers], a few years back, something had changed because of a construction job,” Eppley said. “It wasn’t changed on our drawings. So as we went through our process, these steps, it affected that transformer, which affected Bonny and Gerry, and they lost power.”
The outage lasted nearly eight hours, causing some student residents to become concerned about sanitation.
Because the outage lasted nearly eight hours, some residents became concerned about sanitation.
“When I went back to my room…all the power was out, and I found out because I couldn’t make tea,” Irina Rusanova, a sophomore English major who lives in Bonaventure, said. “But I was concerned about my fridge because I have milk in there.”
Hygiene was an additional concern because there was no light in the bathrooms, although the water was still on.
“I was kind of scared for the people who wanted to take a shower or go to the bathroom,” Rusanova said.
According to Eppley, a storm earlier that day was the reason for the extended duration of the power outage. Construction workers had set up a tent over the work site on the electrical lines, but the storm blew the covering off.
“Once everything got wet, it was dangerous, and they had to keep the power off until they got it all dried back up,” Eppley said. “[The storm] had a major impact on the schedule.”
Eppley claims that in the future, scheduled outages will be planned better.
“We’re going to look a little farther out from the job,” he said.
In addition to scheduling a test outage in the middle of the night beforehand to prevent surprises, the team will pay closer attention to the weather.
“I think if we have it scheduled and it’s calling for rain, we’re probably not going to do it next time,” Eppley said.