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Off-campus students lose power for hours after storm

| Wednesday, August 12, 2020

After storms that blew through South Bend Monday evening, a number of students living off campus found themselves without electricity for several hours.

Outages starting around 6:30 p.m. were reported in Irish Crossings Town Homes, Campus Court, Campus View, Irish Row and Overlook at Notre Dame.

According to Tracy Warner, a spokesman for Indiana & Michigan Power (I&M), 51,875 of I&M’s customers suffered power outages –– among which 8,000 cases –– at the outage’s peak –– were in South Bend.

Senior Ingrid Heimer said the power went out around 6:30 p.m. on Monday in Irish Crossings, where she lives with her three roommates.

The building’s management did not provide information about the procedures to follow during the outage, except to “stay inside,” Heimer said in an email.

“They didn’t know when the power would be back on,” Heimer said. “They also told us they would not be reimbursing us for spoiled food.”

Junior Kiara Gutierrez experienced a similar situation when she returned to her apartment complex in Campus Court after going to Martin’s to buy groceries.

Gutierrez said she did not receive information from her building’s management. To add to this “extremely stressful experience,” she said the outage’s effects hindered her concentration for any schoolwork.

“There was no WiFi and my computer was out of battery,” she said. “I wasn’t able to cook any food for dinner and was stressed that our food would go bad.”

Similarly to Gutierrez, sophomore Mabel Perez’s power went out in her apartment in Campus View.

“It affected my learning experience because I was unable to prepare for any of my classes for the next day,” Perez said. “The outage sucked because it ruined my … plans.”

In Irish Row, senior Natalia Gomez-Botero was told by her neighbors that there was a power outage in the building while she was grocery shopping.

“My friends in Building Four texted me ‘Are you home? The fire alarm is going off,’ and then the power went out right after,” she said.

According to Gomez-Botero, the residence’s management sent her an email around 8 p.m. stating, “They were working on it.”

Senior Noelle Kudelko, who also lives in Irish Row, said in an email the building management did not offer much information “except for the fact that the main entry doors would not be able to open and not to prop them open, so don’t leave the building.”

Students affected by the outage said they experienced difficulties preparing for classes the next day.

“Luckily I had a fully charged Power Bright that works for phones, but our laptops … we didn’t use them last night,” Gomez-Botero said. “This morning when we got to campus, we tried to charge them wherever we could.”

Kudelko said as of Tuesday evening, she was still experiencing technical difficulties after the outage.

“Our WiFi is currently not working which is difficult because we have homework to do and I have a Zoom class early in the morning. … We have no update on when the WiFi will be up and running,” she said.

The students were left without electricity all of Monday night up until Tuesday afternoon. In Campus Court and Irish Row, power was restored between 2:30 and 3 p.m., according to Gutierrez and Gomez-Botero. Perez said she regained electricity around 1 p.m. in Campus View.

According to Warner, tree branches flying into power lines are to blame for the majority of the county’s electricity issues. He said that I&M was able to restore power in 75% of all the cases, and, as of 7 p.m. today, only 1,700 power outages remain in South Bend.

“Damage has been significant, with crews finding at least 50 broken or damaged poles so far,” I&M explained in a press release. “Most damage was caused by the strong winds blowing trees and branches into energy equipment.”

More than 900 crews and contractors from I&M and other partners are working together to restore power across the power company’s service territory, Warner said.

South Bend residents still experiencing outages can expect to have power restored around 11 a.m. on Wednesday. However, Warner said that clients could use I&M’s mobile alert function to search for outage maps and specific situations and alert about any further electrical damage.

Assistant Managing Editors Maeve Filbin and Claire Rafford contributed to this report. 

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