Power outage interrupts class, businesses

The electricity on campus went out at 2:35 p.m. Thursday, leaving Florida A&M University with sunlight as its only source of illumination.

“We don’t normally close in the middle of the day, but the power went out,” said Angela Williams, bookstore manager. The bookstore closed its gate at 3 p.m. as a result of the outage.

“I was laying on my bed studying and talking on the phone when the power went out,” said Luqunda McCoy, 18, a general studies student from Deland.

McCoy said the windows were providing light in the Paddy Foote rooms, but it got extremely hot.

McCoy’s roommate called from her job at Gaither Gym to tell her the lights were out there also.

“There were mechanical failures at the FAMU substation, which is where the city provides our power,” said LaNedra Carroll, director of university public relations.

“The City of Tallahassee and Metro Electrical Electrical Services have been in a continuous process of upgrading campus power,” she said.

Classes were not cancelled, but the university worked to get the power back on so that classes could proceed as normal.

Some instructors in Dyson Pharmacy cancelled classes due to darkness, but other instructors in buildings with an outside source of air continued teaching.

“We were in the middle of a test when the power went out,” said Juanita Gaston, a geometry professor.

Her class, located in Tucker Hall, continued testing for about 30 minutes without power.

Within a 45-minute span, the cafeteria had to dispose of the food it was cooking.

J.J. Meeuwsen and W.L. Kling, members of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers of the Netherlands, wrote a report in 1997 that addressed the potential various modes of substation failures.

The power outage could have been a result of an undetected open circuit or a short-circuit fault.

Open circuits are usually considered passive failures that rarely cause complete outages, according to the report. Short-circuits are more common and affect the primary protection zones of and around the specific failed component.

The outage may have be a result of the a breaker sticking or an overlapping of several failures events. These types of modes affect larger sections of a power unit, according to the researchers.

No major fires were reported on campus, although fire trucks from the Tallahassee Fire Department were spotted in several locations.

“A few people were stranded in elevators,” Carroll said. But within a matter of minutes, responders arrived to help them get out.

Carroll contacted a representative for the new E2Campus emergency phone-messaging system. The responders were working to send a message to users of the service, she said. In the message, students were encouraged to wait for the power to return to normal.

There were no injuries reported as a result of the outage. “The university is taking measures to prevent future power outages on campus,” Carroll said.