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Blizzard brings uncomfortable living situations for resident students

Most of the buildings on campus lost power and/or heat, while Centennial and Priory residents lucked out. ComEd was backlogged with local power outages; power was restored when Physical Plant bought a large generator. Credit: Joel Nayder

By: Stacy Portilla, Contributing Reporter

On Monday, Jan. 31, The National Weather Service changed the Midwest blizzard watch into a blizzard warning. “A blizzard watch remains in effect from Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon,” the station stated. They predicted a snowfall of two to three inches an hour, with a total accumulation of up to 18 inches. With this news came hope, hope of a citywide snow day, but for Dominican residents the perks of a snow day turned into an uncomfortable few days.

At 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday Feb.1, as the snow continued to fall, many offices shut down early, and those who had to leave campus left while they still could.  Many local students went home and other flocked to off campus housing to be amongst friends for the next two days.

“I planned on using the time to get ahead in my classes,” sophomore Abby Pick said.  But then the heat and power turned off in my room and stayed off I realized I would have much rather had class. I couldn’t sleep well; I couldn’t do any work, I had to turn my cell phone off for emergency only. It was a mess. It’s not fun waking up and not knowing what time it is,” Pick said.

On Wednesday morning at 9:00 a.m., The Office of Residence Life sent out an email informing students that the heat and power were out all over both campuses with the exception of Aquinas Hall at the Priory and Centennial Hall on main. Res Life suggested recommended students find a friend in Centennial to stay with, or hang out in one of the lounges. Designated female and male sleeping areas were set up in Centennial lounges for students whose rooms were too cold.

Despite the cold and lack of power, some students tried to remain cheerful.

Senior Lauren Bautista, a resident in Power 4 still had some electricity. “I was on campus with all of my friends during the storm,” Bautista said. “It was like having a big sleepover; we all slept in the same room and shared the food we did have. Compared to other people, we had it really good.”

However, in the hours that followed students began realizing the severity of the situation. The use of elevators, washing machines and even showers were out of the question.  Heat and power had yet to be restored, and food was limited to “sack lunch” sandwiches.

“I thought it would have been nice to have a sandwich option without any meat on it for the vegetarians,” student Jennifer Piggot said. “There were only two sandwich options, turkey and ham. I did appreciate that they had salad available, but considering the circumstances, the food was not sustainable.”

Meanwhile in the outside world, things weren’t much better. While surrounding areas did have heat and power, thousands of people were literally snowed into their homes; hundreds of people were forced to abandon their cars on Lake Shore during the storm, and those who relied on the “El” and Metra trains were hours late to their destinations, if they made the last train.

At 4:36 p.m. on Wednesday, students received another urgent message from Cheryl Johnson-Odim, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “Due to continuing bad weather conditions that may make it difficult for many to get to campus, and because of uncertain power issues on campus (lack of heat, at least right now, in several buildings), Dominican will remain closed for tomorrow, Thursday, Feb. . All classes (both day and evening) are canceled for tomorrow at all locations, and due to lack of heat staff members are not expected to come to campus. Campus will be closed.”

While many off campus students sighed with relief, on campus students realized that they would have to spend yet another night in the less than desirable conditions.

“Overall, I think the school was very unprepared for the storm,” senior Francisco Fonseca said.  “I heard we were on WGN and a student was saying we were refuges stuck in our own school, which I agreed with, but we made the best of it.”

Thursday afternoon at 3:14, Residence Life sent out an email informing everyone that heat and electricity had been restored to all res halls, that warm dinner would be served in the dining hall for the first time in two days, that cars parked in the garage could be moved back to the parking lot, that elevators, washers and dryers were again in service and that classes would resume as scheduled Friday morning.

Residents at Dominican are young at heart as they build snow forts in the snow mound outside of Centennial Residence Hall. Credit: Joel Nayder

 

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