Power Outage Update

Update 3: Monday, June 6, 3 p.m.

From Lynne Schaefer, Vice President, Administration and Finance

I want to update you on the latest news regarding the status of the remaining buildings on campus without power.

Electrical contractors have been working continuously to replace damaged underground cabling. This is a difficult and painstaking process that is, unfortunately, taking longer than anticipated. As a result, we do not expect to have power in residential buildings (including University Health Services and University Counseling Services) and True Grits by late tomorrow, Tuesday, June 7. The buildings will be brought up one at a time, beginning early in the day.

Resident students should call 443-612-0100 for more information. If you have an emergency, contact University Police at 410-455-5555.

Thank you for your continued patience.

Update 2: UMBC is open effective 11 p.m. Sunday, June 5.

The majority of buildings on campus now have power. The Stadium, Facilities Management and the Warehouse may not have power restored until Wednesday, due to serious damage to a large amount of electrical cable.

Also, power to residence halls, University Counseling Services and University Health Services will not likely be restored until late Monday. Resident students should call 443-612-0100 for more information. If you have a emergency, contact University Police at 410-455-5555.

Thank you again for your patience.

Update 1: Sunday, June 5, 2011

From Lynne Schaefer, Vice President, Administration & Finance

I am writing to give you an update on the campus power outage, and to provide more information about the cause of the outage. If all goes as planned, we expect that campus will be open tomorrow. Please check the UMBC website or myUMBC for updates tomorrow morning.

On Thursday, June 2, at about 8:30 p.m., a switch at the power substation at the athletic field complex failed and caught fire. The failure of this switch caused an overload to the main campus power transformer at Central Plant, and the transformer exploded and caught fire, causing the power failure. No one was injured in this incident, and it was not the result of foul play.

Facilities Management immediately went to work to locate and obtain a new, larger transformer, sufficient to prevent future such outages. Crews have been working around the clock to provide temporary power to critical areas, and to restore power as quickly as possible. Our Emergency Operations Center was activated to ensure the safety and security of our community, and to manage efforts to deal with the following issues:

**Coordinating additional police support from the Baltimore County Police Department.

**Coordinating support for campus academic units where research and other important work could be adversely affected by power disruptions.

**Maintaining temporary generated power to critical infrastructure locations on campus.

**Relocating over 200 students into one residence hall on generated power and providing meals to those students.

**Protecting the IT network.

**Working with Chartwells to minimize the impact on their operations and inventory.

Facilities Management is in the process of powering up each building on campus, with the goal of having power in almost all buildings by this evening. The Stadium, Facilities Management and the Warehouse may not have power restored until Wednesday, due to serious damage to a large amount of electrical cable. This power outage certainly has been a really major challenge for the campus. BGE has expressed great surprise at our progress, given the significant amount of damage we sustained.

Also, power to residence halls, University Counseling Services and University Health Services will not likely be restored until late Monday. Resident students should call 443-612-0100 for more information. If you have a emergency, contact University Police at 410-455-5555.

I also want to take this opportunity to encourage you, if you haven’t already, to sign up for E2Campus, our emergency alert text-messaging system that gives us the ability to notify you regarding any campus-related emergency. The system is compatible with mobile phones, Blackberries, smart phones, satellite phones, e-mail, wireless PDAs and pagers. Normal text-messaging rates apply. There are no additional charges. Please sign up for this important service today at http://my.umbc.edu/go/alerts.

We know the past few days have been difficult for many of you, and we have really appreciated your patience and goodwill as we have worked together to solve problems and toward restoring power. Please remember to check myUMBC and the UMBC homepage tomorrow morning for updates.

Friday, June 3

From Mark Sparks, Chief, UMBC Police

As announced to the campus last night, UMBC has experienced a power failure that has severely limited campus operations. UMBC is currently closed and we hope to be able to reopen by Sunday evening.

Our first commitment is to the safety and security of our community, and we ask that you do not come to campus during the power outage. Services are extremely limited and buildings are not accessible. If you have an emergency need to be on campus, you should call UMBC Police at

UMBC Transit has suspended service until the campus regains power.

Resident students with questions should call 443-612-0100.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation during this time. We will continue to update you as information becomes available.


19 responses to “Power Outage Update

  1. Chief Sparks, We very much appreciate all the efforts to restore the campus to normal operations and to ensure our safety. However, you have not provided any information about the nature or cause of the outage. This makes our only source of information the “Patch” online newsletter that all of us have been reading today. The Patch story describes an explosion and a “huge fireball in the sky” next to the police station and a “comment” on the story describes a second explosion elsewhere on campus. The Patch story also includes photos and video that are dramatic. Members of the UMBC community need to know what happened by hearing directly from our university, not from a casual online newsletter. Were there any injuries? Was the damage to the campus significant? Were the attendees at the Landsdowne graduation in danger? Are there indications of the cause that are being investigated? This is not a routine power outage but a significant incident that endangered people. If it had happened at a different time of day, it could have been very serious. We are the people who walk on the campus every day. Portraying it to the campus community merely as a “power outage” is not accurate. It was a lot more than that. Members of the campus community should be told the basic facts more promptly, even if full details and ramifications are not fully known. As a staff member, alumnus, and Professional Staff Senator, I want UMBC to be the kind of community that is honest and forthcoming about signficant incidents on campus rather than leaving staff, students, and parents to rely on rumor or online blogs like “Patch”. Thank you for considering these points. Nancy Miller, Office of Academic and Pre-Professional Advising

  2. @ Nancy Miller: I agree with you, the UMBC community deserves the truth about the event. At the same time I want to thank the UMBC police for their hard work.

    I want to say that UMBC should have posted signs up on building doors about the closings because I was stuck at UMBC for a whole day (6:30 am to 6:25 pm) with all the buildings closed yesterday. There was no access to restrooms, water fountains, or even food! Luckily after desperately searching for some restrooms I saw some RA’s who were kind enough to let me use the facilities (5pm). A lot of people who worked at the library also were frustrated because they were unaware of the events. I met one person who drove an hour to work at the library construction area only to find the place closed.

    I’m new to UMBC and commuter, at least let me know where I can find food, water, and a restroom on campus during this event!!!

  3. @Nancy Miller. This site shares information for individuals who need to know what to do next. I’m sure in time (and when power is restored) there will be plenty of opportunities for the police and campus safety officers to explain what happened to the transformers. In the meantime (and while power is out and the police are busy doing their jobs/securing campus) they probably don’t have the time to answer every single question about the causes of the problem. They should be focusing their efforts on what the individuals who are currently LIVING on campus should be doing next and securing all the buildings from anyone who might try to take advantage of the fact that we currently have no power. Instructions first, explanations later when power is restored.

  4. I think UMBC did a fine job handling the situation. There wasn’t an immediate need to tell a play by play event of what happened to cause the power outage. The Patch and The Baltimore Sun reported the information accurately. As for staff or students coming to the campus and not knowing it was closed that is partly their own fault. I got at least 3 text alerts over the past few days informing me of the power outage and the campus closing. Plus it was posted on the website. Everyone should sign up for text alerts just for this kind of situation. Still, staff supervisors and professors should have made an effort to inform students and employees since it was an unexpected event. I’m sure it was a huge inconvienence for staff & students who did show up to campus but they shouldn’t be mad at UMBC. I’m pretty sure the resident students are much worse off and dealing with them should be a main priority not posting signs on doors of all the buildings.

  5. Watching closely for update on whether or not campus will be open on Monday. Would they know by now?

  6. I have not heard anything. I have also been watching the website for an update. I lost my bankcard and went to campus on Saturday to see if I left it at work and there was still no power then….. so I’m just not sure.

  7. What does this mean, in regards to Monday’s classes, quizzes etc? Since the summer schedule is so intense, a lot of us have things due tomorrow. Some study materials are only online and we can’t access anything…
    I also wasn’t able to buy certain materials that the bookstore carries.


  8. So this looks like residence halls and Walker avenue will not be up until Monday maybe. Does UMBC have a claims process for costs incurred because of this?

  9. Walker and Hillside residents and conference guests requiring dry ice for their feezers should pick up a block at the Hillside Apartment Desk after 7pm.

    Dinner for on-campus residents and conference guests ONLY will be served in the Commons at 7pm.

  10. More information needed to be sent out, the texts were lacking information. The instructions for on campus residents were lacking and information for residents and now displaced residents is seriously lacking. UMBC needs to reevaluate how information is sent to the campus and the residents. I was kicked out of my home with not enough notice and no information of exactly why or when I can return. Will a text be sent out telling us we can return? Will any real information be sent out relating to the lockout?

  11. @Audrey: Did you contact the phone number that was posted BOTH on this site and on the text messages that you state that you received? If you had, all of your questions you pose in your post would have been answered! Apparently even WITH power and clear instructions, some people still have a hard time functioning!

    • I did call the number for residents. Several times in fact, and it is a number for the Susquehanna front desk. The desk staff have no information relating to when we can move back in. The answer is always when the power is on.

  12. Audrey,

    The majority of the UMBC community is not living on campus this summer. Why would the administration send out a text the pertains to less than 10% of the UMBC community? If you want more information about what residents need to do, you can ask an RA (if you are on campus) or you can call the number (if you are off campus). I am not living on campus this summer and I would be annoyed if I received multiple text messages containing details about when residents can move in.

  13. Audrey,

    Additionally, the ResLife website has been updated 4 times since the power went out with instructions for residential students (http://www.umbc.edu/reslife/).

    UMBC has been keeping students informed of what they should do during the power outage. It is up the students to actually read the information. I assume UMBC will provide more details once power is fully restored.

  14. Well, I’m actually am living on campus and had to move out for the weekend, due to the outage.
    Ii can tell why Audrey, as well as other students, would wish for more info…the texts would’ve helped since a lot of us didn’t (and don’t have) internet access.
    I’m emailing from home

  15. Also, although I understand that this was an emergency situation, residents are paying to live on campus…so I’m hoping we get info from the billing services about any lowered costs etc.

  16. @Soni
    It’s ok. The’ll wait until the last minute, and then throw us into 80 degree emergency housing with guys who get 30 phone calls at 5:00 am.

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