On the evening of Feb. 3, power went out on the Muskingum University campus for 26 hours. The winter storm that crossed the Midwest, blanketed the campus with freezing rain, ice and snow, which resulted in the loss of power.
How did Muskingum University weather the storm?
At the start of each winter season, Muskingum’s emergency management team reviews the plans for canceling or delaying classes or closing campus because of inclement weather. Throughout the season, the team closely monitors the forecast and potential impact to campus to make those decisions.
In closely monitoring the forecast, the emergency management team saw the storm was going to be different. They anticipated that the freezing rain and ice would have a significant impact on campus. So, they gathered together key players across campus and began planning. Once they had a plan, they jumped into action:
- Lee Rhodes in Physical Plant located seven generators, which were connected to four residence halls, the dining hall, Computer Network Services and Physical Plant.
- To ensure the campus would not lose access to water, the University also provided a generator to the Village of New Concord for its water plant.
- Physical Plant secured portable toilets that were placed near residence halls in case the campus did lose access to water.
- Faculty prepared to offer courses remotely.
- Student Life developed a comprehensive plan that would relocate students living in residential areas not connected to generators as well as a strategy for communicating that plan to all residential students.
- Student Life also procured snacks and bottled water and gathered board games to make sure students were comfortable.
- Food Services made arrangements for key employees to stay on campus to monitor conditions and provide key services to our students.
All our prudent planning paid off. We were able to provide our students with heat, water, meals, and wi-fi. They were safe and healthy and were able to stay connected to each other and their families.
Sophomore Emma Cepek summed it up perfectly. “I live off campus, but the University was proactive in making sure my housemates and I had a place to stay in the dorms that had power and heat. I was appreciative of the dining hall staff for making sure everyone got to eat, especially students who normally cook for themselves but refrained from opening their fridges due to the loss of power.
“I felt like the situation was explained thoroughly in the days after the outage and it was kind of the Provost and President to send their personal regards and acknowledgement of the situation at hand. I was also warmed by the fact that students selflessly helped each other during this time. I know students welcomed others into their room, and a fellow Muskie whom I had never met before gave me a ride in his car across campus, so I didn't have to walk in the cold. Although losing power was not ideal, Muskies helping Muskies was something I was proud to see.”