Storm causes power outage throughout East Bay, campus closed

Classes, morning events canceled; night events to resume as scheduled


Lorenzo Morotti / The Advocate

A student walks away from a sign posted on the General Education Building door near the Liberal Arts Building that reads, “Power Outage. College is Closed.” on Oct. 14.

By Lorenzo Morotti, Associate Editor

 Classes and events at Contra Costa College were canceled due to a campus wide power outage  on Friday caused by a broken power line pole amid a storm in Richmond.

Because of the campus closure, the “Empty Bowls” event that was scheduled for that day has been rescheduled to Friday at 11:30 a.m. at the Aqua Terra Grill.

Vice President Tammeil Gilkerson said the undocumented student workshop training that was also set for last Friday in the Fireside Hall is postponed until further notice.

On Friday, college President Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said after speaking with PG&E representatives at about 8 a.m., it was determined that classes and buildings should be closed because the estimated time to restore power could not be determined.

“We learned that the reason for the outage was  a power pole being struck and damaged in Richmond,” Mehdizadeh said. “A power pole takes much longer to make operational than just a downed power line.”

Buildings and Grounds Manager Bruce King said power was restored on campus at 11:45 a.m., but various events on campus had already been postponed.

King said the volleyball game against Solano Community College at 6 p.m. and the drama department’s “Achilles in Sparta” production at 7:30 p.m. would take place as usual.

Business Director Mariles Magalong said the campus needed to be closed because of safety concerns and because many professors are unable to teach without access to power.

Senior Dean of Instruction Donna Floyd spoke to professors on the second floor of the General Education Building before the campus was closed.

“I can imagine it is tough to teach or learn like this. It is pretty dark in here,” Floyd told them. “It is up to each teacher’s discretion to let the class out early. But it is a challenge to teach in this setting.”

Mehdizadeh said Police Services Lt. Tom Holt sent her a text at 6 a.m. about the power outage, and PG&E’s initial estimated time to restore power was at 8:30 a.m.

But that estimated time was changed as the storm influenced power outages through the Richmond, San Pablo, El Cerrito and other parts of the Bay Area.

Pacific Gas and Electric Company spokesperson Tamar Sarkissian said due to the high volume of outages throughout the East Bay, she was unable to provide detailed information about the power outage at CCC.

She said throughout the Bay Area, 24,000 PG&E customers were without power that morning — 12,500 in the East Bay.

“The East Bay area was hit the hardest by the storm so far today,” she said.

“We have got a lot of questions and our crews are working to restore power to various outages in that area.”

The students and professors who walked through the rain to sit in dark classrooms, or wait in dark hallways early Friday morning were finally told to leave the buildings by Police Services and college administrators at about 9 a.m.

Mehdizadeh said a notice about the campus closure for today was sent to students and faculty through an emergency text message system at about 9 a.m. as well.

But the initial emergency text sent at 7:48 a.m. was not received by some students.

Dwight Wilson, a computer science major, said he did not receive the text, but he had to leave his house at 6:45 a.m. from Vallejo.

Wilson said when he got to campus he had no idea the power was out until he arrived at the GE Building for adjunct anthropology professor Lisa Scwappach-Shirrif’s Friday lecture.

“It was not until I got on the road when I realized that classes should not be going on today,” Wilson said.

“Closing down the school is a smart thing to do because we can’t have class in the dark. But I would have liked to gotten a text because it is a safety risk for people who have to drive from far away.”