Sub-campuses go dark during storm

While Hurricane Sandy spared Main Campus last week, both the Ambler and Fort Washington campuses fell victim to the power outages and high winds that battered Southeastern Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey.

While power was returned to Ambler by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, Fort Washington remained in the dark until 10 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 1, when power was restored by PECO, Saul Katzman, director of finance and operations at Ambler and Fort Washington campuses, said.

Following the restoration of power at Fort Washington Thursday night, it was discovered that a high-voltage switch outside the building was damaged by the storm. The switch was replaced by, and at the expense, of the building’s owner, Fort Washington Office Park on Friday, Katzman said.

Fort Washington Campus was operating on a normal class schedule on yesterday, Nov. 5, while faculty was running through a final systems check on the campuses’ software and electrical programs, Katzman said.

At Ambler, the location of the athletics fields which play host to Temple’s varsity baseball, softball and men and women’s soccer teams, experienced three downed trees which crews had cleared out of the campus paths on Tuesday, while spending the rest of the week clearing debris from the campus and fields, Katzman said.

“We were very, very fortunate that only three trees were damaged on the [Ambler] campus,” Katzman said.

Larry Dougherty, senior associate athletic director for communications, said the athletic fields at Ambler Campus did not sustain major damage from the storm. Women’s soccer finished its season the weekend before the storm, the men played its first game back at Ambler on Saturday, a 2-0 shutout of St. Joseph’s.

While Fort Washington was closed through the week, professors were offered the opportunity to hold classes at Ambler. Due to the nature of classes held at Fort Washington, which largely include both credit and non-credit classes, a variety of options were available to students, including make-up sessions at later dates.

“There was certainly communication between faculty and students,” Katzman said.

Backup generators at Ambler Campus provided power to several buildings during the storm, including the Administration Building, which had full power during the storm. Other buildings were provided with partial power that serviced telecommunications equipment, stairwell and restroom lighting, Katzman said.

The Fort Washington Campus, which consists of two buildings that Temple leases from Fort Washington Office Park, does not have its own generator. Instead the campus relies on service generators that the office park uses for all its tenants.

The morning after Fort Washington’s power was restored Thursday, Nov. 1, an estaimted 38,000 PECO customers remained without power in Montgomery County, where both Fort Washington and Ambler campuses are located, according to a company press release.

By Saturday, the company said 15,000 in the county remained without power.

“We are still reviewing what happened,” Katzman said. “On Tuesday morning the cleanup started, as far as we can tell everything went smoothly considering the severity of the storm.”

Katzman added that lessons could be learned from the storm.

“We certainly are looking at what happened and what, if any, improvements or changes can be made, that is something that is ongoing,” Katzman said.

John Moritz can be reached at john.moritz@temple.edu on Twitter @JCMortzTU.

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