After going about 24 hours without electricity, power was restored at around 7:30 p.m. on Thursday for six WSU buildings on the South side of campus.
Ryan Gehring, operations manager for electrical light safety at WSU Facilities Services, said a faulty high-voltage cable under Stadium Way caused the outage.
The outage happened at 7:25 p.m. on Wednesday. By about 8:30 p.m. crews were working on fixing the issue, Gehring said. The cable’s insulation wore out, which caused it to ground — destroying itself.
He said workers had to pump water out of underground electrical vaults to begin repairing the broken section of cable.
Gehring said WSU has a good team of high-voltage electricians who are very dedicated to the cause.
The outage affected Gannon-Goldsworthy Hall, the Southside Cafe rotunda, McCoy Hall, Wegner Hall, Kruegel Hall, and Neill Hall, he said.
“I appreciate everybody’s patience during this time and I apologize to students, the outage being in Gannon-Golds and the rotunda I know that’s hugely problematic,” Gehring said.
Facilities Services will work to get more funding to improve how the cable is routed down Stadium Way in an effort to prevent similar incidents, he said.
Students were without electricity or hot water since the outage began on Wednesday, said Kyle Reilly, desk assistant.
Tallulah Kenny, WSU freshman business major and resident of Goldsworthy Hall, said this has been a big inconvenience for students.
“Not being able to make food last night was really tough because the cafeteria closed … so I had chips last night,” she said. “It’s been rough.
She said she knew some people who walked across campus to shower at their sorority house due to the lack of hot water.
Signs were posted around Gannon-Goldsworthy asking students to keep doors closed to conserve heat. Several door locks were taped over to keep them open and others had zip ties keeping them unlocked.
Riley said the door locks and card readers run on battery power. Taping them open was an effort to save battery to keep students from being locked out.
Micah Malachi Matteson, WSU custodian working in Gannon, said not having an elevator caused the most problems for his job.
“We can’t bring up our carts that we have where all of our tools are and what we really need to get a fine detail in, and to make this place cleanly for the students,” he said.
The custodial staff is trained to deal with unexpected problems such as power outages, Matteson said. That training focuses on how to work in low light and keep students safe.
“You also have to make sure that if there’s any people that you don’t identify that are in this building — since we work here like five out of seven days — to report that, and to just look out for the safety of the students,” he said.
One sign in the lobby of Gannon-Goldsworthy read that power is expected to be back on by Thursday evening.
When the power went out at Southside Cafe, operations were shut down to comply with state Health and Safety regulations. Sarah Larson, WSU director for residential dining, said the first response was to notify people of the closure, and then address both food and student safety.
When employees found out the dining hall wouldn’t have power in the morning they worked to make sure perishable food was stored away properly, Larson said. Workers came in to test the temperature of food in the morning.
She said one of Southside’s food vendors lent them a chilled trailer to move and store food throughout the day.
“We’re doing pretty well,” Larson said. “We will lose some food that wasn’t able to stay within the appropriate temperatures, but we’ve been tracking that really diligently throughout the day.”
Howard Campbell, executive chef for Southside Cafe, said staff cannot accurately say how much food was lost but that it could be more than $1,000 worth of product.
He said much of what was lost was dairy items, prepared food and mayonnaise-based products.
“It’s always the dairy that’s usually the most fragile, you just don’t take any chances,” Campbell said.
Despite the outage, Campbell said the dining hall was still able to provide a cold breakfast for about 150 children at the WSU Childcare Center, which is one of Southside’s clients. A hot lunch had to be prepared at Northside Dining Hall.
Southside Cafe had free cookies, cake, coffee and water at the main entrance for students due to the closure. Updates will be posted on the Dining Services website about when Southside and Flix Market may be open for service.