The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Squirrel Sparks Power Outage

3 min read
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A rogue squirrel caused almost a third of campus to be without power for one hour on Sept. 25 at 4:20 p.m., said Pam Lowery.

According to Ruth Lovelace, director of emergency management and safety, the squirrel was pronounced dead on arrival.

“They attempt to jump from one area to another and touch ground and are basically instantly electrocuted,” Lovelace said.

According to Lovelace, this type of incident is most likely the “leading cause of death to squirrels in the Fredericksburg area.”

The power outage occurred on the Sunken Road side of campus, where the transformer that the squirrel came into contact with is located. Since it was external to campus, outside electricity technicians became involved, according to Pam Lowery, director of user services.

John Wiltenmuth, assistant vice president of Facilities Services, said Dominion Power was called immediately and had the power restored within an hour. UMW electricians were then responsible for resetting various internal electric circuits that were tripped when the power outage occurred.

The affected Sunken Road circuit controls electricity to the section of campus between Melchers Hall and George Washington Hall, Lovelace said.

Sophomore David Presgraves was worried about the safety of his dorm building when the power is off.

“…Especially at night, can anyone leave and enter the building without a key or an alarm sounding?” said Presgraves.

In the event of a fire during a power outage, Lovelace said that the emergency systems would still work.

“All systems will still be activated…and both the sprinklers and the fire alarm will sound locally…[and] building specific,” Ruth Lovelace explained.

From that point, Lovelace said, someone in the Residencel Life building must call the Emergency Communications Room in Brent Hall to report the incident.

“[Campus has] several generators in various locations…that support the critical infrastructure,” said Lovelace.

Also, the department of information technology (DoIT) web site outlines that card-key locks on various residential buildings do have a backup system and will still continue to operate during an outage, securing the safety of those within the dorms.

The DoIT web site says that most of UMW’s services are out of commission until power is restored, including EagleLink, Banner, Blackboard, UMW blogs, the entire UMW website, and EagleOne cards at beverage and snack machines.

For sophomore Arrington resident Colin Hess, the inability to access these services for a short period of time isn’t a concern.

“I don’t like power outages, but they are part of life and they do indeed happen,” Hess said. “The university is usually pretty good about power and hot water, so I’m not too angry or worried.”

On the other side of campus, Sarah Delaney, a junior resident of Willard Hall, echoed Hess’s response.

“Honestly, I think we have it better than a lot of people [that experience] power outages,” Delaney said. “At home it goes out in windy weather, so it has never really bothered me.”

Off campus, Junior Jessica Hale misses the fast respond time the university had when a power outage occurred.

“Living away from school, you lose the benefits of having the campus take care of those types of problems,” Hale said. “Here if your power goes out, you have to notify the city and wait in line along with every other neighbor.”