October 6, 2006

Power loss forces residents out of Blackstone

A power outage resulting from one of the worst storms in the last three years forced Blackstone Hall residents to move temporarily to International House on Tuesday. Power was not restored until Wednesday afternoon.

Though the students did not leave Blackstone until around 7 p.m. Tuesday, the power outage began sometime between 9:30 and 10:30 p.m. Monday night.

Meanwhile, students “were reading in their rooms by candlelight,” said resident Abby Brown, a third-year in the College.

James Erler, a third-year in the College, said that there wasn’t any light in the dorm stairwell.

“It was rough getting around Blackstone,” Erler said.

On Tuesday, Carllos D. Lassiter, assistant director in the office of Undergraduate Student Housing, sent an e-mail to students and gave them two hours to move, Brown said.

“They asked us to bring everything we would need to move into a new dorm…I just stayed in a friend’s apartment,” Brown said.

Second-year Kevin Feeney took a different perspective on the move. “It was just an overnight stay.…Everybody got a single, and they gave us pizzas,” he said. “It wasn’t so bad.”

The students were only allowed to return to the dorm between 7 a.m. and noon Wednesday, forcing many to rise early to grab books before class.

The decision was made for safety reasons, said Cabell King, resident head of Blackstone.

“The battery back-up lights in the hall and stairwell [have] burned out, and the fire alarm has been disabled,” he said in an e-mail on Tuesday, before power had been restored. “It is not safe for students to remain in the building.”

Some students reported “hearing a crack and seeing flashes, leading them to believe that the building may have been struck by lightning,” King said. However, the building itself “has not been damaged,” he added.

Officials believe a transformer damaged by the storm caused the power outage, said King and Katie Callow-Wright, director of Undergraduate Student Housing. The transformer also provided power to several residences in the area.

Blackstone’s power was restored around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday.

“We notified Blackstone residents almost immediately that they could return to the residence hall,” Callow-Wright said.