Blackout darkens part of JCU campus for three days

February 19th, 2014


It was an unexpected shock on the afternoon of Thursday, Feb. 13 when students at John Carroll University received an alert announcing a power outage on campus affecting the RecPlex, including Schott Dining Hall, the DeCarlo Varsity Center and Millor, Pacelli, Dolan and Sutowski Halls. By about 8:30 p.m., power was restored in the residence halls, but the power outage in the RecPlex continued until Saturday, Feb. 15. The Corbo Room, the pool, the racquetball courts, the fitness studio, the bookstore, The Inn Between and The Cubby all closed due to the power outage.


“The power outage on one of the four main campus power feeds occurred at 3 p.m. on Thursday afternoon,” said Carol Dietz, associate vice president of facilities. “The source of the problem was determined to be an electrical fault in a cable entering the RecPlex. Facilities worked with electrical and excavation contractors on Friday to locate the bad cable and repairs were completed by midnight on Friday night. Maintenance staff worked through the night to bring all the RecPlex building systems back online and the RecPlex was re-opened on Saturday. The RecPlex and dining hall are served by an emergency generator which allowed the dining hall to maintain operations.”


The power outage was not only unexpected, but it also inconvenienced students.


“As an RA, I had to cancel my plans for the night and I had to be ready to help out the building that didn’t have power,” said junior Becca Gerken.


Campus activities that were planned for the weekend were either relocated or rescheduled.


“The Emergency Operations Team, consisting of various department heads, met on Thursday afternoon and several times on Friday for regular updates and planning,” said Dietz. “Knowing that the repairs might take longer than expected, the team decided to move all events planned in the RecPlex on Friday and Saturday to other locations.”


The men’s basketball game against Wilmington College was rescheduled, SUPB’s event, grocery bingo, was moved to Dolan Science Center for Science and Technology, the Inn Between closed and the Corbo Fitness Center was not operational.


Freshman Rachel Vadaj, a member of the JCU dance team, said the rescheduling of the men’s basketball game was an inconvenience.


“People make plans ahead of time, and no one was expecting the game to get rescheduled,” said Vadaj. “We were short a girl for our routine, and there was less of a turnout than usual. It really messed with people’s schedules.”


blackout Campus

While the power outage was a great inconvenience to all those in need of the facilities in the RecPlex, JCU’s radio station, WJCU, received the brunt of the disruption, as WJCU’s annual Radiothon fundraising event was held last weekend. Everything in the radio station was shut down except for the electronics that will stay on air. The staff had to switch all the essential equipment to the one emergency generator outlet. The greatest setback for the radio station with was the lack of air conditioning and lighting.


Mark Krieger, the general manager of WJCU, said that air conditioning is critical to the broadcasting station because it keeps the computers cool and stops them from frying. The team stayed on its toes and created an alternative air conditioning system.


“We kept the studio cool by filling up trashcans with snow and putting a fan behind them so the cold air could circulate,” said Krieger.


The only light in the room was the light coming from the monitor screens. This was a problem for George Bilgere, a professor in the English department, and his co-host John Donoghue since they needed to be able to read for their show “Wordplay.” Luckily, another solution to this dilemma was quickly determined: The men wore head lamps.


“It looked like they were in a mine shaft,” said Krieger.


The power outage was not only a challenge physically, but also mentally. The team at the radio station was constantly at work and eventually became burnt out and frustrated with the tasks at hand. Howard Regal, the station manager, had nothing but praise to give his team members.


“The blackout was a gigantic inconvenience,” said Regal. “But we are lucky that we have the staff that we do. The commitment level is amazing and everyone rallied together to tackle the blackout. In the end, it brought us all closer and we did a great job.”