The remnants of Hurricane Ike passed through Rochester on Sunday night and Monday morning, creating strong winds exceeding 55 miles per hour that knocked down trees and power lines, ultimately causing parts of UR to lose power.
According to Central Utilities Director Bruce Smith, Rochester Gas ‘ Electric Corporation experienced a power outage around 1:30 a.m. on Monday that shut off the power supply to Southside Living Center, University Park, the Hazardous Waste Management Unit, the Grounds building and UR Medical Center KinderCare. The traffic lights on Kendrick Rd. and Lattimore Rd. were out as well.
‘Several Facilities personnel left their homes immediately to be on site to assist the restoration process,” Smith said. He explained that, in the event of a power outage, emergency generators turn on to ensure that all fire alarms continue to function properly while power is being restored.
Central Utilities transported a portable generator to Southside to ensure power in case of further delays in the restoration process. While power was being restored, the fire alarms remained working due to emergency backup generators in the Southside buildings.
Signs were posted on the doors to Southside, alerting residents of this, and the UR Web site was continually updated Monday with the latest notification on the status of the restoration process.
‘We make every effort to notify and update people who are affected directly and as quickly as possible,” Smith said.
Power was progressively restored to campus throughout the day on Monday. Several on-campus buildings that had lost power, including Southside, had power restored by 2 p.m., while the remaining on-campus buildings were fully restored by 6:40 p.m., according to Smith.
When power outages occur at UR, there is a set order of priorities that authorities follow.
‘In these emergency situations, student living areas are our first priority,” Smith said. ‘University Facilities and Security worked with many other departments to get life back to normal for everyone involved.”
Director of UR Security Walter Mauldin described the routines Security follows to ensure the safety of building occupants in the event of a University-wide blackout.
In this hypothetical case, Mauldin described the two courses of action available to his staff to address fire safety concerns. The first option would be to assign a fire watch to a building’s fire panel, who would be available to pull the fire switch.
An alternative course to take would be for UR Security to evacuate all of the affected buildings and temporarily relocate the occupants. However, this option poses practical challenges in Southside, where buildings are over 10 stories tall. The option is more viable in smaller buildings, such as Burton and Crosby halls, each of which stands four stories tall.
‘[In Burton and Crosby] the ability for routine/emergency crews to get out of the building is a lot easier,” Mauldin said.
Lombardo is a member of the class of 2010.
Additional reporting by Rebecca Leber. Leber is a member of the class of 2011.