Point Loma Nazarene University experienced a blackout on Nov. 25, Monday evening, as a result of a heavy rainstorm that spread across Ocean Beach, Point Loma and Sunset Cliffs. Faculty and staff were prepared to ensure students were well taken care of as they waited for the power to be restored.
Power was lost at 4:43 p.m., leaving many students in a state of confusion. Timmarie Smith, a resident assistant in Young Hall, was taking a nap in her room when she was suddenly awakened by panicked shouting and pounding on her door.
“I woke up and I was so scared and I thought the world was ending,” said Smith.
Once realizing what was going on, Smith reassured residents the power would be back on by 9 p.m., information available to all students via the PLNU Alert text message system.
The Public Safety office was powered by the emergency generator, making it the only building on campus with functionality. Mark Ryan, director of Public Safety, prioritized students’ needs following the blackout.
“Our first concern is the students’ welfare,” Ryan said. “President Brower, vice president Jeff Bolster, and dean Jake Gilbertson responded to the Emergency Operations Center and coordinated with Sodexo to make sure that dinner was provided to all students. They put out regular updates via the emergency alert systems to keep students informed.”
Bri Seidler, the dispatcher on duty the night of the blackout, was tasked with multiple responsibilities to ensure that the public was informed and safe.
“Depending on how the outage has affected each of the campuses, we have to make adjustments in our communication,” said Seidler. “There weren’t complete blackouts in each of the campuses, but all night classes were cancelled to prevent any further issues.”
Administration sent a 45 person bus to the Liberty Station Conference Center to pick up students that had their classes cancelled.
“There were plenty of concerned staff, students and parents who were seeking guidance, and that’s when we informed them on the necessary steps to take to stay safe,” Seidler said.
Abby Childress, resident Dining Manager, was responsible for coordinating with Public Safety to ensure that students were fed. The fire alarm sounded in the cafeteria at 4:55 p.m., and emergency operation plans commenced shortly after.
“Public Safety was contacted and we began to evacuate the building. At around 5 p.m., public safety showed up and we did a walk through of the building to ensure there wasn’t a fire,” said Childress.
Once everyone was out, Childress and her team created a plan for food distribution and temporary operation. The doors reopened around 5:15 p.m., in which they relied on the power supply light system which only lasts about three hours.
“In a situation like this, facilities help us with the back up lights, however yesterday the facilities team was already gone, so it remained pretty dark,” Childress said.
The temperature control of the food was closely managed while the cafeteria was in operation. All food was thrown out by the end of the night to avoid hazard in any way. Although there has never been a standard operating procedure in place before this event, Childress is currently working on making one for the next time there is a power outage.
For some students, this experience wasn’t alarming at all, but instead a fun break in the monotonous routine of the week.
“It gives people common conversation and something to talk about together,” said Finnegan Murtagh, third year writing major.
Bethany Mavis, an adjunct professor in the Language Journalism Writing Literature (LJWL) department and Mariner Yearbook advisor, said it was the first time in four years she’s had to cancel a class. With no lights, internet, projector and alarms going off in the Bond Academic Center, Mavis couldn’t hold her weekly 5:30 p.m. editing course.
“I am using my personal hotspot to type this email to you,” Mavis said in an email to her students.
Power was restored around 7 p.m., putting an end to the darkness and bringing to light emergency management during a blackout.
By: Camden Painton and Ashlee Owings