Despite widespread flooding and power outages, Yale forges ahead with classes
Two COVID-19 testing sites are closed for the day, and students in some colleges were told to stay in rooms except to get food.
Standing water in the Pauli Murray basement. Courtesy of Sebastian Baez.
After more than a half foot of rain pounded Connecticut late Wednesday into Thursday morning, Yale continued with the second day of classes despite ongoing power outages in several classroom buildings and residential colleges.
Remnants of Hurricane Ida slammed parts of the Northeast, including New Haven, late Wednesday night and early Thursday morning. By 8 a.m, once the storm had cleared, the power remained down in numerous campus buildings, according to an email sent to faculty and students on Thursday morning from Dean of Yale College Marvin Chun; Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Tamar Szabó Gendler; and Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Lynn Cooley.
Specifically, classroom buildings up Hillhouse and along Prospect Street — including A.K. Watson Hall, Henry R. Luce Hall and Rosenkranz Hall — did not have power for much of the day. Several residential colleges — specifically Benjamin Franklin, Silliman, Pauli Murray and Timothy Dwight Colleges — also did not have power as of the email update. An email from Timothy Dwight Head of College Mary Lui explained that there are standing flood waters in Yale’s Central Power Plant and that entryways G and H in the college experienced particularly severe damage. Some students in those entryways were relocated to temporary housing due to a ceiling leak, University spokesperson Karen Peart told the News.
By 4:30 p.m., power had been restored to all campus buildings except for Dow Hall, Dunham, Tsai CITY and Warner House, according to a Yale Alert. There is no timeline for the power to come back on in those buildings, the alert continued.
Madeline Wilson, Director of Yale’s COVID-19 Testing and Tracing Program, wrote in a 12:15 p.m. email that testing sites at 60 Sachem St. and 109 Grove St. would be closed for the remainder of the day. The sites at the Schwarzman Center and 150 York St. would continue operating. People who could not reschedule a canceled test would not be penalized for the delay in adhering to their testing schedule, she wrote.
Melanie Boyd, Dean of Student Affairs, wrote in a campus email that Yale’s central messaging systems were working unevenly as of Thursday morning, and potentially causing communication challenges. The deans confirmed that classes would continue, but that courses held in the affected buildings should meet over Zoom or be rescheduled to another time.
In a 1 p.m. follow-up email, the deans clarified that classes should not take place in the affected buildings for the rest of the day, regardless of whether the power came back on. They added that people should only enter the buildings, some of them research facilities, to retrieve items and secure equipment. Due to ventilation concerns, they should not remain in the areas, the email continued. But the deans added that students in residential colleges that lost power could remain there.
The deans asked instructors to “be accommodating” to students who would face challenges arriving to class prepared. Boyd wrote that students experiencing flooding or the loss of connectivity could participate in classes from Sterling or Bass Libraries or another classroom.
The Yale Native American Cultural Center wrote on Twitter that it is open to all Yale students affected by the power outages.
The power outages began late last night and affected buildings and those in them through the morning. Peart said that no injuries among students have been reported due to the storm.
At around 12:10 a.m. on Thursday, all 14 of Yale’s residential colleges and Old Campus lost power. Between approximately 1:30 a.m. and 2 a.m., power had been partially or fully restored to Benjamin Franklin, Berkeley, Ezra Stiles, Grace Hopper, Jonathan Edwards, Morse, Pauli Murray, Pierson, Saybrook, Trumbull and parts of Old Campus. Some colleges subsequently experienced further outages.
At 1:35 a.m., the University sent out a Yale Alert. The message urged students to stay in their rooms unless the water level required them to evacuate. It included a Facilities hotline that students could call.
Rooms in entryways G and H of Timothy Dwight College were badly damaged, according to Lui’s email. The college’s fire alarm went off at 3:30 a.m. Thursday was likely due to an electrical short caused by flooding, Lui wrote.
Yale Facilities declined to comment early Thursday morning. New Haven Director of Emergency Operations Rick Fontana has been in “frequent and consistent communication” with Yale emergency services, New Haven spokesperson Kyle Buda told the News.
Buda noted that Diamond, Concord and Ashland Streets were partially closed due to downed power lines. As of 11 a.m., at least six cars had been towed after driving around barricades onto flooded streets. Power outages had affected around 230 buildings, including commercial and non-Yale residential buildings, Buda said.
Heads of college in the affected residences updated their students in the morning, urging them to stay in their rooms except to get food and water.
Laurie Santos, head of Silliman College, emailed college members and advised them to stay in their rooms pending further information. The dining hall had put out a “light continental breakfast” for students who needed food, she added.
In Pauli Murray, Head of College Tina Lu explained that the dining hall had pastries and limited bottled water for students for breakfast. Lu advised students to wash their hands in the showers, as the sinks are powered by motion detectors. In her 7:30 a.m. email to Murray students, Lu explained that she would pass on any emergency messaging she received from the University, but that she had not heard anything.
“Please exercise care as you leave your rooms,” Lu wrote in the email. “I am not sure where there is flooding and I don’t know how dirty that water is and obviously I don’t know which doors are safe without power. If you leave be super careful.” Floods bring a variety of bacteria which might be harmful to people. In addition, when flesh eating bacteria pass into the body through an open cut, scrape, or other puncture wound, a bacterial infection of the skin might be formed. In order to avoid this from happening, you might want to visit a medical center in your area to learn more how to best avoid this. According to an email sent by Yale Hospitality on Thursday morning, dining halls in Timothy Dwight, Franklin, Pauli Murray and Silliman colleges will be open for lunch, but are expected to be open again by dinner. The affected students were asked to eat lunch in Steep Cafe, Commons and the Bow Wow for lunch, and all other students were asked to eat meals in their respective colleges, if possible.
New Haven County issued a flash flood emergency warning last night.
Julia Bialek contributed reporting.
Update, 4:46 p.m. Sept. 2: This story has been updated to include new information about the restoration of power to some buildings across campus.
Update, 11:53 p.m. Sept. 2: This story has been updated to include response from University spokeswoman Karen Peart.