Storm wreaks havoc at SPSCC

“We had the plows on, the truck, gravel ready, tractors gassed up, and all that,” said Penny Koal, the dean for facilities planning and operations at South Puget Sound Community College. However, “The ice that followed causing the trees to break and fall was compounded by the power outage which left us pretty much without communications.”

From Jan. 16 through Jan. 24 the South Puget Sound Community College campuses in Olympia and Hawks Prairie were closed due to a record-breaking snowstorm. According to Koal, the college was prepared for a normal snowfall but was caught off guard by weather of that caliber.

This made the process of getting everything back to normal much more difficult, but everyone on campus pitched in and made a great effort.

The majority of the heavy snows had ended by Jan. 19 and according to Koal the cleanup started on Jan. 21.

Maintenance crews with chainsaws began clearing the road and walkways, and after the power was restored that Sunday, the Internet network was put back online.

Still, even with these successes, snapping tree branches and falling sheets of snow made the campus inaccessible to students and staff according to E2campus alerts. It was not until Jan 24 that both SPSCC campuses were finally reopened.

“All things considered [the maintenance crews and staff] did an amazing job,” said Koal. “We will do a debrief session to discuss what went well and how we can do even better next time. I hope next time is not anytime soon.”

The same can be said of many students and faculty, who are a full week behind schedule.

“This isn’t high school,” said Professor George Darkenwald to his business law 171 class on the first day the campus was open. “We can’t tack on days to the end of the quarter to make up the time we’ve lost. We just have to keep moving on ahead.” He did however postpone that Friday’s exam by one week.

Students, many of whom were without power for six days or more, were stressed by the amount of catching up they had to do.

“I had no power for seven days!” said student Hannah Leib. “I couldn’t do much of anything without lights or Internet.”

Due to the closure, students will have classes on advising day (Thursday Feb 16) and President’s Day (Monday Feb 20).

“I never really do much on advising day,” said Leib, “so while I’ll miss the day off it’s not a huge deal to me.”

Published: Feb. 13, 2012 here.