By Lisa Donchak
As 55 mph winds howled and rain drops smacked the pavement, Friday’s storm left much of Santa Cruz County without power—including the UC Santa Cruz campus. Several fallen trees further influenced the administration’s decision to close the campus for the day.
According to Jim Burns, campus spokesperson, “It was just perilous to get to campus and it was getting even more perilous. At 9:30 in the morning [the administration] essentially made the decision to send people home.
The campus outage was relatively widespread. There was a complete outage in Lower Campus for most of the day on Fri., and that probably filtered into Sat., according to Burns.
Sam Bersola, graduate student liason, was available to assist off-campus graduate students displaced by the storm.
According to Bersola, “There were two families who were displaced to the University Inn because redwoods had fallen on Family Student Housing units.” Nevertheless, Bersola said, “no one [had] contacted me for assistance.”
Despite fallen trees, campus closure, and electrical surges, some students living on campus during the storm hardly noticed the power outage.
Maurice Sowunmi was living in an apartment at College Eight for the month between fall and winter quarters, and was there when the storm hit.
“The lights outside were off,” he said. “But everything was kind of just [on] emergency power.”
Far from the adrenaline rush one might expect from such a situation, for Sowunmi the day was relatively calm.
“I wasn’t really doing much except reading,” he said.
Zach Wallerich, a resident assistant at College Eight, was also on campus at the time, and only noticed that the power had been out because “my clocks had been reset and my laptop was drained [of battery power].”
However many in the Santa Cruz and San Jose area were not as lucky as Sowunmi and Wallerich. According to local radio station KAZU-FM, 87,000 PG&E customers were without power on Friday; a number that only fell to 51,000 by the next morning.
Many in downtown Santa Cruz were without power for more than 24 hours. Most stores were closed on Friday, and Long’s Drugs—one of the few to remain open—had run out of boxes of candles before nightfall.
The PG&E hotline predicted that some power restorations would come as late as Wed., and by Tue. many would still be without power.
The UCSC campus was more fortunate. “As of 5 p.m. on Sunday, PG&E power has been restored to all of the campus,” Carolyn Lagattuta of the UCSC Public Affairs Office wrote in a campus-wide e-mail.
However the e-mail noted that, “Information Technology Services and Physical Plant are recommending that campus personnel continue shutting down all ‘non-essential’ electronic equipment.”
Fortunately the problem was short-lived. Just three days after the storm, PG&E informed the campus that power was stable enough for people to reboot their electronic equipment, Burns said.
This would not restore all services— such as the UCSC School of Engineering website—but Burns said that it may take a while for everything to get back up and running.