Students returned to campus Jan. 23 after snow, ice, power outages and wind led to Pierce College starting late Tuesday and canceling classes altogether for the rest of the week.
During this suspended operation and the weekend, essential employees such as security officers, IT staff and facilities workers were working to clean up after the storm.
“The crews have worked very hard…to maintain the usability of the campus and to return the campus in operation,” Patrick Schmitt, Pierce College Puyallup president, said. “We opened on Monday due to their efforts.”
Gardeners removed debris and snow that had dumped on the campus, maintenance workers tried to keep the power on and security officers still were patrolling the campus 24 hours per day.
“There was nothing we could have done to avoid the hit we took,” Maureen Rickertsen, head campus security officer, said. “We were well prepared for it with plenty of sand, de-icing material and snow removal equipment.”
A blackout left Pierce College without power for about 30 hours from Thursday afternoon to Saturday afternoon.
“The maintenance guys were busy with trying to keep our power up and running, we were experiencing brownouts, where one building would lose power but not the others,” Rickertsen said. “Then they would get that up and running when we would lose power someplace else. However, by Thursday afternoon we lost the battle with electricity.”
High-voltage electricians had to be brought in due to problems returning power to the College Center.
“I don’t think there has been a storm like this in a generation,” Schmitt said.
The cost of the storm’s effect on the Puyallup campus has not been determined yet, but there will be after action meetings that may provide a figure.
Currently, the costs are being covered by the normal operating budget, which was designed with room for unseen expenses. However, due to Governor Gregoire’s issue of a State of Emergency, there might be public compensation that Pierce College could receive. Schmitt said that if there is money that could help cover the storm cost that Pierce College would apply for it.
Instruction resumed with only the east entrance open to traffic as the west entrance was closed until Jan. 26 due to debris such as branches that blocked the road.
“You can see the damage if you drive the west or east entrances and it’s a shame because we have a lovely campus,” Schmitt said.
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