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Hillary Hits Palomar

SAN MARCOS — Tropical storm Hillary closed the Palomar college campus Aug 21 due to campus power outages.

Power was restored the next day allowing campus to open, but at least two buildings continued to have outages through the first half of the week, said campus officials.

The NS building had no power and remained closed. Students with classes in the building were promptly notified via email that their classes would either be canceled or relocated.

Faculty and no-power signs were also stationed on both sides of the NS building. Faculty approached students walking towards the NS building to inform them and answer any questions.

Angelique Ehle, a STEM student support specialist sitting at a table outside the NS building, said that students acclimated and pulled through very quickly.

Despite the unfortunate circumstances, Quan Ngyguen, a professor in the NS building, talked about the importance of staying positive. “[Faculty] lead the boat,” he said with a motivated spirit, adding additional emphasis on the fact that the faculty’s overall conduct will inevitably reflect upon the students.

Professor Ngyguen also spoke on the significance of knowing the resources around us. “We’re all in this together,” he says. Don’t be afraid to ask for any help!

The NS building regained power allowing classes to begin on Aug 24.

Students with classes in the NS building were asked about their experiences with the outages and how they were affected. Most were happy with how fast they were dealt with and were ready to begin their year.

The Q building, which houses KKSM, Palomar’s student-run radio station, also faced its own sets of issues with the power outages.

The outages temporarily knocked KKSM’s AM radio station into its emergency broadcast feed. The feed works through off-site transmitters that kick in when KKSM goes offline.

Zeb Navarro, KKSM’s station manager and professor at Palomar, went on to explain that, while the emergency feed works for the AM radio feed, however, it doesn’t carry over for the internet feed. “Internet listeners had nothing to listen to,” he said.

Facility workers arrived as early as 5 a.m. on Aug 22 to help regain power and return KKSM to the air. They were successful, allowing Navarro’s class to begin at 8 a.m.

Zeb mentioned that the outage had caused a couple computers to become non-operational. “We’re working with the I.T. department on campus on replacing those and fixing those,” he said.

The outages themselves were caused by water entering Palomar’s electrical infrastructure, explained Christopher Miller, director of the faculties department. He went on to say that Tropical Storm Hillary brought tough conditions saying that the “winds and the rain were a lot stronger than we normally have seen,” adding that, “the power outage was a surprise”.

When it comes to Palomar’s electrical infrastructure, Miller trusts it saying it’s in a “reasonably good shape.” However, he also pointed out that, “it’s time for us to be prudent,” and that “if we plan for replacement right now, we’ll be good.”

Facilities also conducted intentional blackouts on Saturday Aug 26 in order to allow the Facilities Department to make additional repairs.

Image Sources

  • DSC07072: Miguel Cruz | All Rights Reserved

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