Darkness fell on UCSB last night, causing both confusion and joy as students shuffled out of classrooms or labs to seek the light somewhere else.
Students on campus suffered through, or were treated to, approximately two hours sans electricity – read: no Facebook – yesterday evening, when a downed power line near Storke and Glen Annie Roads shut off electricity throughout campus. Although Southern California Edison representatives were unsure how the transmission line had broken, they said the fallen line struck a transformer beneath it shortly after 7 p.m., damaging three circuits – two of which serve the UCSB campus.
The third damaged circuit cut off power to about 200 residences on Glen Annie Road, but lights in Isla Vista were not affected.
The power outage ended classes early last night, stopped elevators, sent repair crews scrambling and clogged UC Police Dept. phone lines.
The UCSB Wind Ensemble was rehearsing when the outage struck. First-year mathematical science major Allie Caldwell said the outage ended the class early.
“We were in the middle of rehearsal when the power went out,” Caldwell said. “It’s kind of sad since we have a performance in two weeks.”
The blackout also impacted life in the on-campus residence halls, forcing students out of their blackened rooms and into the warm evening air.
“This sucks, because we need to get ready for our date party and we can’t,” said first-year global studies major Jessica Sherman as she passed by students being turned away from the darkened De La Guerra dining commons. She remained in good spirits, though she was unable to straighten her hair in preparation for her party.
Technicians patched the line shortly after 9 p.m. and power was restored at 9:23 p.m.; in the meantime, the outage caused headaches for campus police and fire departments. Elevators in several buildings stopped, stranding students inside. When asked which buildings still had students stuck inside, firefighter Chris Lomstead said, “Name one.”
“The library, Phelps Hall and San Miguel [Residence Hall] had people stuck. If someone was really hurt, we would use our tools to force our way into the elevators, but if not, it’s best to let the professional elevator person deal with it,” he said.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Design and Facilities Marc Fisher said UCSB employees and technicians coped well with the outage, extricating students from elevators quickly and acting according to procedure. In general, Fisher said things went smoothly across the entire campus, with every building’s generator switching on shortly after the blackout, with the exception of the Biology 2 building, which was repaired shortly after.
Santa Cruz Resident Assistant Xavier Lovo concurred. As he dealt with curious students and a crackling CB radio in the background, he said that the biggest problem the blackout caused was a lot of hungry students
“The residence halls have generators, but just the hallway lights stay on,” Lovo said. “Everybody’s concern is food. DLG and Ortega are shut down.”