Photo by Elizabeth Baummer.
There were many issues that occurred on campus last month, including the RAC flooding, water outage, heat outage and power outage. The close proximity and effects of these issues have raised many questions.
Lenn Caron, assistant vice president for Facilities Management, assured that “each of these problems is independent of each other and aren’t related in any way” and emphasized that “it’s just bad luck that we had them all in the month of October.”
The first issue, the RAC flood, occurred on Oct. 2 due to a valve on the sprinkler system standpipe that failed while being tested. “As a result, the wood floor was damaged beyond repair,” Caron explained. The wood floor has since been removed and administration is currently in the process of picking and installing new flooring material.
The water outage on Oct. 12 occurred in relation to a Baltimore City water main break. Facilities management worked with the city water department to fix the issue. According to Caron, “One of the complications with this outage was that the main break was not in a visible location, making it very difficult for the city to locate.” Once they located it, they were able to restore the water.
Thirdly, on Oct. 21, there was an equipment failure within the UMBC central plant, causing a shutdown of UMBC’s high-temperature water heating and cooling services. This caused a loss in building heat for many of the building on campus. “Facilities Management worked with multiple contractors to locate the necessary parts and restore heat as soon as possible,” Caron said.
Most recently, on Oct. 27, there was a campus-wide power outage. The outage occurred because a vehicle hit the power pole where power is fed into the campus. Caron said that “BGE notified Facilities Management after the accident and agreed to wait until 4 p.m. to make repairs so that we had time to send a campus-wide text alert and inform the campus community of the pending outage and duration.” The reason many food sites were closed on campus is due to the fact that “backup generator wouldn’t necessary power everything in the building — just emergency circuits,” Caron explained.
The explanations do not negate the effects that these issues had on the lives of students, with some students being more affected than others. Zachary Pena, a junior information systems major living on campus, says, “In my three years being here, we haven’t had these things happen and it is a little weird that they are all happening in a back to back nature.” He mentioned that the water outage only had a minimum impact on him because he lived about twenty minutes from campus and was able to “go home to take a shower.” He further explained that other students, such as international students, would face the issues more acutely and it would not be good “having no heat or power.”
Likewise, Luis Oliva, a freshman majoring in economics living on campus, says that “the RAC flooding was annoying because [he] couldn’t do some workouts” and suggested that some of these issues are more avoidable and foreseeable than others.