Saturday, January 20, 2018
Public safety

Power restored after USF goes dark during final exams

TAMPA — Mark Schmidt had just stepped out of the shower at the Avalon Heights apartments and lifted a razor to his beard when the lights went out.

He headed across Fletcher Avenue to study at the University of South Florida library, where he just found more darkness. It's finals week. The power was out.

Schmidt, 20, settled at the dark campus Starbucks, face still scruffy, no coffee brewing.

"I'm just going to sit here," he said.

Nearly 4,000 TECO customers were without power for 90 minutes Wednesday morning just east of Interstate 275, according to Tampa Electric, including Moffitt Cancer Center and USF. The outage was caused by a bad transformer at a power substation, TECO officials said.

Campus-wide outages at USF also shut down four campus traffic signals. University police directed traffic. At Moffitt, officials said, power was out at only two research buildings for less than an hour.

The power had also gone out at USF briefly on Tuesday, officials said, but in a much smaller area at the College of Education, a lecture hall and the Pollo Tropical restaurant. Exams scheduled for that area were moved.

Students milled around in the drizzling rain Wednesday, waiting to find out what to do. The wireless Internet connection worked, so they tweeted and studied on laptops.

Joseph Grill sat in the library Starbucks, thumbing his phone and waiting on his next exam at 12:30 p.m. The lights had gone out just before his 10 a.m. business calculus exam, he said, and everyone had stood up and cheered.

"I'm not mad at it," said Grill, 28.

At 10:37 a.m., backup generators brought lights back to the library. Power was back all over campus by 11 a.m., and students were told to go to class. Their exams had been rescheduled.

A chorus of people said, "Hey!" Then, realizing they had to go back to work, they sighed and walked out of the library.

A few said, "Boo."

Times staff writer Laura C. Morel contributed to this report. Stephanie Hayes can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3394.

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