Though iced roads, tree damage and power outages are still concerns around campus after Athens was slammed by six inches of snow Sunday, the University will be open Tuesday, an administrator said.
The University will operate under normal operating hours, said Tom Jackson, vice president of Public Affairs, in a phone interview with The Red & Black Monday. An Arches listserv e-mail was sent out to students, faculty and staff at around 6:40 p.m. Monday.
On campus, the Physical Plant "worked around the clock" Monday to tackle major tree damage and iced roads, but they remain hazardous concerns, Jackson said. The main campus has power, but there were some outlying areas, including River Road and College Station facilities, that were still experiencing problems Monday night, Jackson said.
Significant damage occurred in the Miller Learning Center's roof, where "snow came in like an avalanche on the high roof, hit a lower roof" and collapsed a portion of the roof, said Ralph Johnson, director of the Physical Plant. Three of the MLC's hallways had water damage because of melting snow. Though most of the MLC is usable, some classes will have to relocate out of a few auditoriums, because ceiling tiles are saturated by water and people could get hurt by falling tiles, Johnson said.
As for icy roads, "we're expecting low temperatures and re-freezing tonight. Parking lots are still snow covered, because we don't have snowplows or the equipment to remove the snow," Johnson said.
Johnson said major tree damage occurred around campus, in areas such as River Road and behind Reed Hall, where tree branches fell on cars. The Physical Plant worked throughout Monday to remove any obstructions on campus roads.
As an estimated 23,000 Georgia Power users were experiencing power outages, and 20,000 of those customers are in Athens, making it the worst hit area in the state, said Lynn Wallace, a media representative for the power company.
"We have had 1,000 Georgia Power people from around the state working specifically in the Athens area," Wallace said. Wallace could not confirm an estimated time for when power was expected to be back on, but "they're going to keep working until everybody gets back on."
Meanwhile, students coped in their homes and dorms without heat and power.
"I felt helpless. With the power outage we couldn't go anywhere. We had cars blocking the entrance and everywhere was closed," said Trey Kenyon, a senior from Woodstock who lives in River Mill apartments. "It was freaking cold. And having the power out just f---ing made it a lot worse."
"When I woke up the power was out," said Stephanie Jackson, a junior from Birmingham, Ala. "It's been out since about 10 this morning, but I was told it'll be back on at 6:30 tonight." Jackson said her roommate called the power company to confirm when the power would return. Until then, she is staying at her boyfriend's apartment, she said.
Julianne Escoe, a student who lives in White Hall Village apartments, had to buy non-electric heating pads to sleep with, and the power outage has made it difficult to study for her four tests this week.
Some students, like junior Katie Postich, were unaware of the University's cancellation announcement 7 p.m. Monday.
"I didn't even know school was closed. My mom had to tell me, she saw it on TV," because Postich could not access her Internet at her Towne Club home.
Others reacted to driving in the icy conditions.
"I was without power for approximately five seconds, but then it came back. But let me assure you, those five seconds were the most terrifying five seconds of the entire day except for when I was trying to drive back to Athens," said Jonathan Roeber, a sophomore from Evans.
But despite the accumulating damage from Sunday's storm, much of it was not preventable, said Georgia Power's Wallace.
"There's really nothing you can do preventative when a storm like this comes though," she said. Though the power company does routine procedures to check lines and trim trees, ice, wind and snow make a dangerous combination. Ice and snow can topple drought-damaged trees, and "there's nothing you can do about it," Wallace said.
But, "we are prepared for storms - our line crews are always on standby, they're needed in standby," Wallace said.
- Contributing: Daniel Burnett, Danielle Moore, Shanessa Fakour and Dallas Duncan