Emory Report

January 31, 2000

 Volume 52, No. 19

University defrosts after weekend storm

By Michael Terrazas

The postponement of Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's lecture was just one of the effects last week's winter weather had on Emory.

Just like the rest of Atlanta, the University awoke Sunday, Jan. 23, to find much of the campus covered in ice and fallen trees; more than a half-million people in the Atlanta area were left without power that morning. Facilities Manage-ment immediately called in employees and began cleaning up tree limbs and other debris, according to Bob McMains, director of plant operations and maintenance.

Of the University areas that lost power, some were served by Georgia Power and others were located on Emory's side of the electrical substation. All campus units had power restored by 5 p.m. Sunday afternoon, McMains said.

The University opened at 10 a.m. Monday, and all appeared well. But that evening at 11 p.m., the North Decatur Building lost power. The backup generators, which had kicked in Sunday when power first went out, were not reset correctly, and the emergency batteries activated to keep the building going. But McMains said the batteries are not presently equipped with alarms, and FM did not even know they were on until they were exhausted.

Facilities Management restored power to the North Decatur Building at approximately 3:20 a.m. Tuesday after a four-hour outage. The outage played havoc with Information Technology Division's mainframe, affecting a range of technical services including campus e-mail. Most of the services had been restored by the morning of Wednesday, Jan. 26.

McMains said FM and ITD are determining the cost of precautionary measures, such as a notification system for the emergency batteries, that will prevent these disruptions from happening again.

At presstime McMains and his staff were bracing for another blast of winter due to arrive in Atlanta over the weekend of Jan. 28-30. He said FM would keep extra employees on hand and others on call in case of more snow or freezing rain. He also he had plenty of de-icing material on hand for slick and dangerous roads.

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