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Timeline of the Cook/Douglass power outage

Some buildings were kept online through the use of generators, but this is not feasible due to the number of buildings on the impacted campuses. – Photo by Dimitri Rodriguez

Unspecified power issues impacted two of the five Rutgers—New Brunswick campuses in the second week of classes, inconveniencing students and disrupting staff.

The exact cause of the issues could not be discussed, said Executive Vice President for Strategic Planning and Operations Antonio Calcado. He believes University personnel have located the issue and will spend the night testing building systems to ensure the power does not go out again.

Tuesday around 9 a.m.

The University had power problems around 9 a.m. that lasted about an hour and one-half, Calcado said. 

"We looked into it, we thought we found the issue that fixed it (and) in the meantime we continued to evaluate the system to see if we found the root cause," he said. 

Tuesday around 7 p.m.

At 7 p.m. the campuses lost power again before regaining electricity around midnight, Calcado said. Facilities personnel worked through Tuesday night and Wednesday morning to determine the cause, but were not confident they had found it. 

"Over the last two days we’ve had some intermittent power problems," he said.

Wednesday around 9 a.m.

At 9 a.m. on Wednesday morning, power went out for the third time through academic, administrative and residential buildings. 

"At that time we activated our emergency operations center (where) we put all our contingencies in place," Calcado said. "We look at our resident students, we look at our dining options, we look at our staff ... we look at transportation."

Wednesday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The decision to cancel classes through 5:30 p.m. was made at a meeting that ended at 11 a.m.

At that same meeting, the decision was made to plan for sheltering students overnight. When power remained intermittent at 3 p.m., the decision to cancel classes through the night and move students into temporary shelters was made.

Wednesday around 6 p.m.

Students were advised to begin locating to the temporary shelters at 6 p.m. Students will not be allowed into their residence halls without an escort until the power situation has been completely resolved for a few reasons, Calcado said. 

The obvious issue is that students need to swipe their RUID cards through an electronic device in order to access those buildings, but right now a physical key is needed to enter them.

Alarms and other security features are also offline while there is no power to the buildings, which creates a safety hazard if students are constantly entering or exiting buildings, he said. 

The emergency operations center focused primarily on student safety, Calcado said.

"We began to modify the transportation system so we could keep people moving, and all the while we continued to try to find the root cause," he said. "We had about 50 people at our subsystem and around looking at it."

Thursday around 5 a.m.

At 5 a.m. on Thursday morning, administrators will meet again to decide whether they can open the affected campuses, he said. Until then, University personnel, including Calcado, will work through the night to test different systems and ensure the cause has been isolated.

In the meantime, students will be able to stay in the recreation centers on Busch and Livingston campuses. Extra food from Neilson Dining Hall was trucked over to the different campuses on Wednesday afternoon, he said.

Since Neilson Dining Hall staff know roughly how many students eat there each night, they were able to approximate how much food each other dining hall might need.

"We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000 beds available, that’s based on experience of what we’ll need when we’ve had these types of issues in the past," Calcado said. "We’ve augmented our Wi-Fi and internet capability because there’ll be a lot of devices on these other campuses."

While the campuses' buildings may be closed, the other facilities will still be operational, said Rutgers Department of Transportation Services Director Jack Molenaar. 

All commuter students or residential students with parking permits for the Cook or Douglass campuses can continue to park in their assigned lots, and bus service will continue regardless of whether the campus is open or closed on Thursday, he said.

Nikhilesh De is the news editor of The Daily Targum. He is a School of Engineering senior. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.

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