Cougar Place left powerless several times in a week

Frances and a local tree were apparent causes for outages

Cougar News Staff

Residents at Cougar Place may still be in the dark regarding power outages in the residence hall complex this semester.

The most recent losses of power were during Tropical Storm Frances Sept. 10 and 11 and the next week, Sept. 17 and 18.

The first outage, which was apparently caused by the storm, lasted in some parts of the complex from about 11:15 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10, until around 10 a.m. Friday.

Sept. 17, the complex lost electricity from about 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and on Sept. 18 sources reported the power was lost again for about one hour.

"The power is going out much too frequently for us to be paying all this money. We pay extra to live by ourselves, but the power has gone out more than four times," said junior education major Treva Richardson.

Andy Blank, director of Residential Life and Housing, said when the power goes out anywhere on campus, the Physical Plant is notified and a staff begins correcting the problem as soon as possible.

"Whenever there is going to be a power outage about which we are aware, we notify students, whether that be by placing notes on their doors or posting it so that they are made aware," Blank said.

Blank said that, although his office tries to notify students of planned power outages, there is little to be done when the outage occurs because of the weather or construction.

"If it is an act of nature, a storm or a construction accident, there is no way of knowing," he said.

Last week's outage was caused by something on campus rather than a problem in Houston Lighting & Power's system, according to Letitia Lowe, an HL&P spokeswoman.

Reports indicated it was caused by a tree with roots that interfered with power lines. However, The Daily Cougar was unable to reach any Physical Plant employees for confirmation.

The outage during Frances was caused by problems arising from the storm.

However, residents in other campus locations did not report lengthy power outages.

"Three times in eight days is kind of excessive," said Carl Krueger, a senior mechanical engineering major and Cougar Place resident.

"You can almost call it four times because it was gone all night."

Students were affected in different ways by the power outages in Cougar Place, from canceled study dates to ruined food.

"I had to go to the library to study because the lights weren't on," said junior information systems technology major Maricela Rodriguez. "I was pissed because I had to take a shower and use the phone and I couldn't."

Cougar Place Desk Assistant and post-bac Russian studies major Curt Darwin was one of several students whose food stock was ruined. "My refrigerator is reeking of coffee," he said.

"I had $20 in food I had to throw away," said Douglas Krodell, a senior physics major. " I had to stay up late studying for a quiz the next morning. The power went out and I ended up missing it."

Blank said he is aware of the importance of maintaining power to the residence halls.

"I was concerned myself because we rely on power so heavily. Any time power goes out (on campus), whether it be in a classroom or in the dorms, I'm concerned because it affects students," he said.

Daily Cougar staff writers Melanie Melançon and Tera Roberson

contributed to this report. Reach them at jdp14610@bayou.uh.edu.

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