On Sept. 30, The Oaks Apartments experienced a power outage as a result of Hurricane Ian. Based on information from Oaks resident Hannah Gallagher, and Residence Life Director Carrie Barnhart, the power went off sometime between 7 and 8 p.m. that evening and was restored by 10 a.m. the next day.
The Herald interviewed Hannah Gallagher about her experience with the power outage. Gallagher “was not expecting a full night without power” as a result of the storm, and “had assumed that The Oaks, as a part of a college campus, would be connected to a generator, but…the Oaks are on a different power line from the rest of campus.” Another resident, Daniela Cruz Reyes, said that the power flickered throughout the afternoon, “but when it went off completely…[she] had no idea what to do.”
Gallagher explained that when she and her suitemates called the Residence Director (RD) on duty, Kelsey Lewis, about the outage, they were told that “she was already working on it.” Gallagher said, “We got an email around 11:26 p.m. about the power being out and again at 12:16 p.m. the next day about power being on. All communications about the outage came from [Lewis].” Cruz Reyes confirmed that students “never received any communication from Chyna [McQueen],” the Apartment Manager for The Oaks.
Gallagher’s suitemate, Sadie Rounds, told The Herald, “[Lewis] was honestly very helpful in calming our nerves and doing her best, we just also would have appreciated help and/or communication from our own apartment manager.” Rounds also said that Residence Life could have been “more communicative about how to prepare for something like this, and communication throughout the night would have eased our nerves. I was confused and scared the entire time because I just didn't know what was going on or what they were doing to try and fix it.”
Gallagher said she knew about the power issue when she got the first email from Residence Life around 11:26 p.m. because she was in the Oaks when the power went out earlier that evening. Gallagher also said that she “would appreciate more effective communication about what’s being done to solve the problem.”
Rounds told The Herald that she “immediately went into panic mode to find solutions and flashlights” when the power first went out. Rounds said, “I was not prepared at all. My phone was barely charged and I did not own a flashlight outside of that.” Because Rounds did not grow up with this type of weather, she was unsure about “what [she] even had to be prepared for.” Cruz Reyes informed The Herald that because the Oaks do not allow candles, they had even fewer sources of light.
The Herald interviewed Barnhart and McQueen about the actions taken by Residence Life after The Oaks lost power. Barnhart and McQueen said that “Residence Life worked to troubleshoot this issue with campus police” after being notified about the outage by a Community Assistant around 8 p.m. They also told The Herald that Lewis, the RD on duty, went to “The Oaks in person as well to make sure students were able to access their rooms and respond to any other concerns that may have come up.”
Barnhart and McQueen said that “Residence Life sent an email shortly after the power outage” to notify them of the situation. Because this outage was handled by Duke Energy, Barnhart and McQueen explained, “the College did not have an estimate at that time of when service would be restored.”
Barnhart and McQueen encouraged students to review the Emergency Preparedness tips on the College’s website, especially the severe weather incidents portion.
The Herald also contacted Eliza Ward, ‘26, about her experience with the storm in Brewer Residence Hall. Ward said, “I did not receive any information [about the storm] from my RD or Resident Assistant; however, we’re all very close to one another. There wasn’t anything I was worried about.” According to Ward, the power only flickered in Brewer.
Although Ward did not have any initial concerns, she stated, “Even if I'm not a resident at The Oaks, I still would like to know about any damage the storm made to the campus.” She was not informed about the power outage in the Oaks until after the storm, and Ward also commented that no one from the College informed her about “the tree that fell between Heilman and Barefoot” during the storm.
Although the storm caused some power and other issues on campus, Gallagher said that she and her friends somehow made “an impromptu board-game night work.” She also said, “It was fun meeting people in the hallway and having an unplugged night with my friends.”
By Cady Stanley, Arts and Entertainment Editor