Dozens of Quincy students living in Hampden Hall swing space were forced out of their rooms and into the suites of friends and House mates Monday night, as a power outage that began early in the evening kept a cluster of buildings along Plympton Street and Massachusetts Avenue in the dark.
The outage occurred when a power circuit faulted under Harvard Square just after 5 p.m., according to employees of NSTAR, the power company that services the city of Cambridge.
When it became clear that power would not be restored in time for residents to return to the building Monday night, College officials, including Administrative Board Secretary John “Jay” L. Ellison and Associate Dean of Student Life Kimberly A. Pacelli, gathered in the Quincy Senior Common Room around 11:30 p.m. to organize temporary housing for residents of Hampden Hall. The dorm, one of three buildings designated as swing space during Harvard’s ongoing House renewal project, is located at 8 Plympton St.
“We’ve heard all night that it’s going to be one hour, one hour, one hour,” Quincy House Master Lee Gehrke said.
As administrators sought outside shelter for affected students, blockmates and friends scrambled to arrange less formal accommodations, offering couches and spare beds to the roomless Quincy residents.
“We’ve got lots of people just saying we’ve got room,” Gehrke said of the residents of New Quincy. “Most people have actually found places to stay. We’re looking now at where there are empty beds that are residential beds like in Lowell or Quincy and DeWolfe.”
By 1 a.m., administrators said they had found space for all Hampden residents in the Houses.
Late Monday night, Harvard security had begun to guard entrances to Hampden, allowing access to residents who needed to retrieve medical necessities, only when accompanied by College officials.
Hampden was not the only building affected, as adjacent buildings, including a handful of Harvard Square businesses and the offices of The Crimson at 14 Plympton Street, plunged into darkness. With the newsroom darkened and the presses at a standstill, production of Tuesday's Crimson shifted next door to the Adams House dining hall, where a skeleton staff worked past 2 a.m. to edit and design the paper. Turley Publications, Inc. of Palmer, Mass., printed Tuesday’s paper.
Lindsey V. Aakre, a tutor in Hampden, was in the building when the power first went out and said that she was initially told power would be restored by 8 p.m.
“Eventually, they stopped predicting,” she said. “I took some stuff with me, but clearly not enough now.”
Hampden resident Ji Su Yoo ’15 said she is staying the night with a friend in Quincy, and is not sure when she will get back into her room.
“They weren’t very specific at all about when tomorrow,” she said.
Once the power is restored to the building, students will still have to wait for the fire department to verify that the alarms are operational before residents are able to return unescorted.
The highly localized outage is not the first to affect the area this school year. In November, a tripped NSTAR transformer plunged much of the Square and River Houses into darkness for two hours.
—Staff writer Nicholas P. Fandos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @npfandos.
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—Staff writer Steven R. Watros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SteveWatros.
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