After a weekend power outage left hundreds of students displaced, officials at Tyler Junior College are making plans to be more prepared should it happen again.
For campus safety and housing leaders, the outage was a learning experience that could help other East Texas colleges and their students know what to do in a similar situation.
The underground cable that supplied power to the campus was dripping like a hose after water seeped into the cable and blew a transformer.
"Even when you have plans in place, there are always things that take place that you hadn't anticipated," says TJC Director of Public Affairs Fred Peters.
For roughly 20 hours over the weekend, 250 students were relocated. The females were moved to temporary dorm rooms with electricity. The males were provided mattresses to sleep on in a lobby lit by a natural gas generator. Looking back, housing director Diana Karol says there's always room for improvement.
"We need to encourage the residents to tap into our Apache text alert and check their TJC Facebook page because that social media is such a great way to put those real-time announcements out," says Karol.
The announcements won't just help students, but parents, too. A concerned parent drove in from out of town over the weekend after not being able to get in touch with their son.
"I learned that we need battery-operated phone chargers," adds Karol.
Another concern, which was at the bottom of the school's priority list, but the top of the students', was battling boredom.
"They had to do without all of their games and devices and music and movies. They ended up playing board games in the lobby and they ended up playing hide and seek. Everybody got a little LED flashlight, so it really turned into kind of a fun sleep over," Karol says.
"It is a learning experience. You take it and you learn. It's not the first time power has gone out on campus," says TJC Police Chief Randy Melton.
TJC will continue to look at what went right and what to improve for next time. TJC says having an analog phone line, backup generators and a communication plan is extremely helpful during a campus-wide power outage. They also had overtime officers on staff, which ensured a trouble-free evening.
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