Widespread power outage affects several aspects of campus

by Laura Wiersema, Reporter

Student life screeched to a halt in various buildings on Simpson College campus when the power went out at 2:10 p.m. on Feb. 27 and lasted approximately one hour.

The power outage affected several of Simpson’s facilities including Kent Campus Center, Pfeiffer Dining Hall, Barker Hall, Colonial apartments, Washington apartments and Station Square apartments.

The outage wasn’t specific to Simpson, though. According to the City of Indianola, it was caused by an equipment failure and affected much of town.

Chris Frerichs, director of security, said in the past causes have been as strange as a car crashing into a power line.

On campus, it seemed odd that buildings like Barker Hall, Pfeiffer Dining Hall, and Kent lost power while Kresge Hall and Cowles Fieldhouse didn’t. Rich Ramos, associate dean of students, had an explanation.

“It all depends on the dividing lines where some of the places connect. Kresge apparently connects to the south, and the other buildings connect to the north,” he said, referring to power lines.

During the outage all of the food services shut down.

“They have to by health code,” Ramos said. “They have to be able to have power. And, plus, all of the equipment runs off of electricity.”

Food services also wanted to retain the chill in the refrigerators by not opening and closing them frequently. This way, depending on how long the outage continued, they could possibly save some of the food from spoiling.

Aside from food service, the first and foremost things to attend to were the students affected. If the outage were to last into nightfall, they would’ve needed somewhere to stay and somewhere to eat.

“You have two priorities: heat and food. If it were to start to get dark that would be a problem,” Frerichs said. “We would want to make sure that we know where we’re going to be when it starts to get to be 5 and 6 o’clock and we need to start having students being able to use food services and heat as the sun goes down.”

If the outage had lasted through the night, students would have been told to stay with a friend in a building with power.

There is a process that security goes through in the case of an outage like this.

“The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to make phone calls and try to see what’s going on,” Frerichs said. “We make phone calls to the housing staff to see which facilities have lost power.”

Frerichs said the goal is to see how long the outage is going to last and notify everyone as quickly as possible. Since not everyone would have access to an Internet connection, the most likely form of notification would be through Simpson Alert For Emergencies, or SAFE, which sends voice messages, emails, and text messages to students.

It’s never ideal to have college residence halls and dining halls without power, but students should always be on the lookout for alerts regarding similar situations.