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Lane Avenue Residence Hall, thousands in Franklin County lose power as Sandy hits East Coast

Courtesy of MCT

Thousands of people in Franklin County lost power Monday evening as Superstorm Sandy made landfall in New Jersey.
At 7:44 p.m. the Ohio State Service2Facilities Twitter account @OSU_S2F tweeted that Lane Avenue Residence Hall had lost power, which was confirmed by Dave Isaacs, a Student Life spokesman.
Isaacs said Lane Avenue Residence Hall was the only building on campus he knew had lost power at 8:30 p.m. Monday, and that he hadn’t heard of any planned evacuation. Emergency generators immediately turned on when the power shut off, and a representative from the Columbus Division of Police said no officers had been dispatched to the area.  
Other students in the University District found themselves without power Monday evening as well, and according to the AEP Ohio website, about 1,200 customers were without power in Franklin Country at 11:15 p.m. The number had peaked earlier in the evening with more than 6,600 recorded outages.
Justine Pardi, a fourth-year in medical laboratory science who lives at Norwich and Waldeck avenues, said her power went out at about 7:15 p.m. Monday.
“We didn’t know when it was gonna come back on, so we called AEP and they just had an automated message saying they were aware power was out across Ohio and they’re trying to get it fixed as soon as possible,” Pardi said.
Because of the outage, she decided to relocate to a friend’s house near the Short North.
“We had to study and the candle light wasn’t enough,” she said.
Alyssa Taylor, a fourth-year in city and regional planning and communication, said after losing power at her Indianola and Norwich avenues residence at about 8 p.m. Monday, she and her roommates went to Panera Bread on Lane Avenue to charge their electronics and work on homework. She said she also lost power for several days in July during a large wind storm.  
Taylor said she hadn’t gotten any estimation from AEP about when she could expect her power to return, and hadn’t seen any workers in the area.
While an inconvenience, Taylor said her friends are trying to stay positive.
“We’re trying to make light of the situation – no pun intended,” she said.
Some students were reporting that power was starting to return to parts of the off-campus area around 10:45 p.m. Monday.
Rain clouds hovered over Columbus most of the day Sunday and Monday as Hurricane Sandy approached the Atlantic coastline, but the Central Ohio rain was minimal compared to the kind of weather the East Coast has seen this week.
Hurricane Sandy, which passed through the Caribbean killing about 70 people in its path, arrived on the East Coast Monday, bringing high winds and heavy rain with it. According to the Chicago Tribune, the storm had been blamed for at least 10 deaths Monday evening.
Sustained winds of 90 mph were reported along with 15-foot waves and water levels nearing record-high water marks on the coastline. Even the Great Lakes have been affected by the hurricane, with reports of 12-foot waves on Lake Erie Monday.
Several states across the Eastern Seaboard declared a state of emergency as the storm approached, and anticipation of the hurricane led to canceled classes for students across the East Coast.
The hurricane was downgraded to a superstorm just before reaching land Monday night, according to the Weather Channel.
Jay Hobgood, OSU associate professor of geography, said the storm was getting so much attention because of its size and unusual timing.
“It’s very unusual to have a hurricane this strong near the U.S. this late in the year,” he said.
Superstorm Sandy is the most powerful storm to hit the East Coast since Hurricane Irene in 2011, which resulted in more than 50 deaths.
While Columbus has seen rainfall and high winds, Hobgood said Monday afternoon the storm won’t affect Columbus the way even parts of Eastern Ohio will be affected, and that the most disruption Central Ohioans might see would be localized power outages due to fallen trees.
However, Hobgood said people traveling won’t be as lucky.
“The greatest impacts will be on air travel,” he said. “If you’re trying to fly out of Port Columbus (International Airport) today, that has probably been affected.”
Flights scheduled to land and depart in airports across the East Coast have been canceled and delayed due to the storm, disrupting air travel nationwide.
Flights scheduled to depart from Port Columbus Monday to New York City, Newark, N.J., Washington D.C., Baltimore, N.Y., and Philadelphia were canceled due to the storm, and flights for Tuesday morning to those same locations were already canceled by 6 p.m. Monday.
On campus, Hobgood said there is a possibility that construction sites could be affected due to the high winds if equipment is not properly secured.
“If the cranes and areas under construction have been properly secured, they are unlikely to have a problem,” he said.
According to the Franklin County Emergency Management and Homeland Security, weather in Franklin County Monday night included winds ranging from 25 to 35 mph, and gusts that exceeded 45 mph. Tuesday high winds are expected with gusts near 30 mph likely into Tuesday night.
Lindsay Komlanc, OSU Administration and Planning spokeswoman, said the university has been taking preventative measures to prepare for the storm’s arrival. She said in an email that Facilities Operations and Development has advised project managers to “secure their construction sites for high winds.”
Komlanc said preparing the sites includes making sure all fences and signs are secure, clearing items that could be picked up by the wind such as debris, containers, ladders and some tools.
She also said when winds are expected to exceed 30 mph, cranes on campus are shut down and locked in positions to avoid as much damage as possible to the equipment.
Hannah Rosenbluth, a fourth-year in speech and hearing science, said she thinks classes should have been canceled and was surprised students hadn’t received any emails regarding the storm.
“They should have a procedure if it gets serious,” Rosenbluth said.
Stevia Davis, a fourth-year in human development and family science, said Monday afternoon she was concerned how the storm will affect her in Columbus.
“I’m hoping our power doesn’t go out.” Davis said.
President Barack Obama gave remarks on Hurricane Sandy at about 12:45 p.m. Monday after being briefed by federal emergency response teams, and advised people in the affected areas on the East Coast to follow instructions from their state officials.
“Please listen to what your state and local officials are saying,” he said. “When they tell you to evacuate, you need to evacuate. Do not delay. Don’t pause. Don’t question the instructions that are being given, because this is a serious storm and it could potentially have fatal consequences if people haven’t acted quickly.”
The areas most affected by the storm Monday were the New Jersey and New York coastlines that saw flooding, high winds and heavy rainfall in the afternoon. According to the National Hurricane Center, the storm is expected to progress inland, affecting Pennsylvania and much of New York.

Michael Periatt and Ryan Busansky contributed to this article.

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