Electricity goes out for many, including schools Most lose power for about 2 hours

November 14, 1993|By Ed Heard | Ed Heard,Staff Writer

More than 1,400 customers lost electricity for at least two hours in West Columbia Friday morning because of malfunctions in underground cables.

The outages began at 9:58 a.m. Friday, power had been restored to most customers by 12:01 p.m., Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. spokesman John Metzger said.

But for some of the larger customers, including schools, power ++ remained out for most of the school day. Traffic signals and some businesses also suffered power losses.

Howard Community College students were sent home after electricity there was out from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Power was restored just after they left. The college reopened for night classes at 5 p.m..

Students and staff members at Cedar Lane School, Harper's Choice Middle, Longfellow Elementary, Wilde Lake High and Wild Lake Middle schools made the best of things, and BG&E restored power to the schools by 2 p.m, school officials said.

Sidney L. Cousins, associate school superintendent, said a decision was made to keep classes going because most of the students would not have parents waiting for them if the school day was cut short unexpectedly.

"It's unusual and disruptive, but you have to be innovative and resourceful," said Mr. Cousins, who visited the five schools during the outage. "Everyone was coping marvelously."

In dark corridors, dimly lighted cafeterias and classrooms, administrators and teachers said things went pretty smoothly.

"It's an inconvenience," said Nicholas Girardi, principal of Cedar Lane School in Harper's Choice. At 1:45 p.m., Mr. Girardi said his school for developmentally disabled students was still without power.

The lunch hour was the most difficult to handle, Mr. Girardi said, but a "creative custodian" helped. The microwave couldn't be used to heat lunches made by some of the students' parents, but the custodian came up with the idea of using the heat from a boiler.

Cedar Lane and other schools were prepared with battery-operated medical equipment, flashlights and emergency lights. Windows also helped brighten some classrooms on the clear sunny day.

At Wilde Lake High, things weren't as easy. Since the school does not have windows, the 800 students had to stand in the parking lot for as long as two hours. Some walked home, taking the rest of the day off.

Meanwhile, the school cafeteria handed out cold sandwiches and apples because can openers and other cooking instruments were inoperable.

At Harper's Choice Middle School, Principal James Evans said students were moved into parts of the building with natural light.

Students at Longfellow Elementary also were moved to areas with sunlight, such as the cafeteria.

With temperatures in the unseasonable mid-60s, Kenneth Gill, principal of Wilde Lake Middle School, moved most classes outside.

"The teachers and students were very cooperative," Mr. Gill said. "It made my life easy."

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