Tree damage, power cuts extent of Sandy's impact

No one injured, no serious damage

Photos/Charles A. Radin

A tree fell near the crosswalk to the Rabb Steps.

It’s business as usual today on campus, having weathered Hurricane Sandy over the past 48 hours.

President Fred Lawrence expressed his appreciation for the many staff members who worked through the storm to keep vital systems operating, and he encouraged members of the community to remember the millions of people affected by devastating storm damage from New York south.

“We are all grateful that there was no significant damage or personal injuries on campus,” Lawrence said. “At the same time, our hopes go out to people in New York, New Jersey and other states that bore the full impact of the storm, and we extend our sympathy and support to the members of our community who at present are unable to communicate with their relatives and friends in those places.”

Mark Collins, senior vice president for administration, labored through the night with his staff to ensure work orders were completed. Collins spent the early hours of Tuesday morning in discussions with NSTAR, the area’s electricity and natural gas company, and campus officials, who eagerly waited for news on when power would be restored. Power in some areas of campus began to waver at around 3:30 p.m. Monday and returned at approximately 4 a.m. Tuesday.

“It was a waiting game,” Collins said. “There was a brown-out on Monday afternoon, which resulted in one of our two main feeder lines shutting down. That immediately caused disruption on campus.”

A few systems had to be restarted, Collins said, as a mere 10-second blip of power loss can shut systems down until rebooted.

Most of the power issues took place across the street from the main campus, which included Gosman Sports Center, Foster Mods, Charles River residence halls, 60 Turner St., 567 South St. and Village Residence Hall, the one set of buildings that is on the campus side. NSTAR was able to repair the areas.

Beginning Friday, winds in the Waltham region began to pick up. As temperatures dropped significantly during the weekend, conversations between students on campus usually concerned how Sandy would hit Brandeis. Clouds covered much of the sky Saturday and spurts of rain dotted campus. As the night progressed, winds climbed over 40 miles per hour, with nearly two inches of rain pummeling campus into Sunday.

Gov. Deval Patrick asked schools, colleges, and businesses in Massachusetts to close in preparation of the storm. Most public transportation had already been shut down in the Boston area.

In response, President Frederick Lawrence, who had already emailed the student body about cautionary procedures, sent another email, announcing the closure of all but the most vital processes on campus Monday.

Students rejoiced, keeping their eyes glued to their laptop screens, waiting for messages from professors pushing back assignment deadlines and midterm dates. Midterms that were to be taken Wednesday of this week have been extended, or changed to different assignments. In some cases, such as those involved in science labs, students were reminded that a doubled, four-hour lab session would await them once campus reopened.

Despite the worsening weather conditions, many students celebrated their Monday off by hosting activities like touch football, tag, hide-and-go-seek via Facebook. Some students slid down the hill next to the Farber Library shirtless and shoeless, while many remained inside to avoid the whipping rain. President Lawrence provided free pizza for all students on Monday evening from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m., which kept the Brandeis community close-knit even during the stormy conditions.

Edward Callahan, director of public safety, reported that a tree had near the Berlin Chapel, but at this time does not see any apparent structural damage. Callahan warns that as people walk around campus they should be vigilant about precarious broken tree limbs.

“We’re still having a few hiccups with 60 Turner St. and the Charles River residence halls,” says Collins. “Both have power, but the voltage that we are being given is not consistent and is causing some delivery problems.”

Collins and his team are working with NSTAR to resolve the issues.

“It was a painful night for everyone,” says Collins, “But all in all NSTAR has been doing a good job.

Se Jun Lee contributed to this report.

Categories: General

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