The week got off to a dark start for Binghamton University students and Broome County residents alike on Monday evening when a thunderstorm brought down a power line, causing a power outage on campus and around the county. On campus, power was out for almost eight hours. Approximately 17,000 Broome County residents were left without power on Monday night, according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin.
At approximately 7:53 p.m. Monday night, power went out throughout campus, leaving all buildings without electricity. Some residential communities, including Dickinson Community, used emergency generators to light the hallways, but students’ rooms were left dark. Other dorms, such as those in Mountainview College and College-in-the-Woods, were without any power until full power was restored to all of campus at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Ryan Yarosh, ‘02, director of media and public relations at BU, wrote in an email that the emergency power is used to ensure safety and that Physical Facilities was prompt in making sure the emergency power was working in each building.
“The partial lighting is the emergency power which lights hallways and stairwells for safety and evacuation purposes,” Yarosh wrote. “Our Physical Facilities staff should be commended as they were quick to ensure that emergency generators were functional and that buildings got back online as soon as they could.”
Binghamton’s New York State University Police Department (UPD) Chief Tim Faughnan wrote in an email that when it comes to blackouts, UPD has various protocols, which depend on the source of the outage. In this case, the residence halls were the top priority. Although most campus services were unavailable due to the blackout, Faughnan wrote that UPD continued to receive calls reporting crimes during the outage, adding to the chaos of the night.
“We respond to emergency calls such as entrapments and alarms that are caused by the power failure as they come in, and rely on the Res Life Staff to notify us of any life safety issue which will receive priority,” Faughnan wrote. “When these situations occur, we commonly also continue to receive the normal calls for assistance or crime reports so the situation is always a very fluid one.”
Faughnan also wrote that UPD officers had to make sure various laboratories on campus were safe and undamaged.
“Additionally, we have many very sensitive laboratories that require attention because of chemical containment equipment, exhaust hoods, and other research work that could be lost,” Faughnan wrote. “Many labs were also occupied last night as well.”
Some students didn’t know what had happened when the power first went out. Olivia Baerga, a sophomore majoring in English, said she was unsure what to think about the blackout until she realized the entire campus did not have power.
“I was in my room and I was in the middle of FaceTiming my parents, so when the lights went out they were asking what happened,” Baerga said. “I went out into my suite and realized we just lost all power. I was scared when the lights first went out, but then when I realized we were all in the same boat, it was alright.”
Power has been operating on campus since early Tuesday morning, but according to the New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, approximately 500 customers in Broome County were still without power as of May 3.