Power outage strikes campus during severe weather

Todd Kleiboer | Co-Editor

Much of the A&M-Commerce campus was plunged into darkness as a power substation connected to the city of Commerce failed during a bout of severe weather Feb. 24.

“With all the rain we’ve had during these past couple of weeks, this is the first time it really hit us big,” Associate Director of Hall Operations Kathy McGrath said. “It was Saturday with nonstop rain, thunder, lightning throughout the day and evening.”

McGrath’s weekend was taken up with trying to reach the people in charge of repairing the substation.

“I was getting emails at home this weekend, and I called the ACD (Assistant Community Director) that was duty,” Associate Director of Hall Operations Kathy McGrath said. “He said he was aware of it, and we got in touch with people.”

All residence halls except for Smith Hall and half of Prairie Crossing were without power for two hours from 8 a.m. to roughly 10 a.m.

“Prairie Crossing seems to be on two different poles,” McGrath said. “And then Smith Hall is on a different pole that wasn’t on the substation they had issues with.”

Smith Hall and that half of Prairie Crossing are connected to a different substation, and that fact allowed them to avoid losing power.

The cable system for the residence halls was also downed during the severe weather, and residents were able to rescan for the channels in the afternoon of Feb. 26.

“We have a special room [in New Pride] that nothing is there besides the cable and the channels,” McGrath said. “And I just go in there and reset the breaker, and we’re good.”

According to McGrath, the breaker for the cable system flips every time severe weather rolls into the area, and she suspects it is a preventative measure to prevent extensive damage to the system.

“Unfortunately that’s a normal standard, but that’s just the way it is,” McGrath said. “We automatically know to go in and reset the breaker after a storm. It just seems like I get a phone call every time a big storm comes through that sets the cable off.”

With more severe weather in the forecast and the season just ramping up, McGrath said that power and cable outages are usually out of the control of people to stop them.

“It’s just one of those Mother Nature things that happens,” she said. “Lightning strikes the pole and knocks it out.”