— RIT NEWS (@RITNEWS)March 12, 2014
As I was just arriving on campus at 8:45, I received the text message informing me that I could go home. I was excited - snow day! At RIT! Is this really happening? I didn’t even think about all the work our day off would entail until I was on the way back to my apartment in Colony and saw an FMS plow working to clear the roads around campus. Then I realized that a day off for me meant a day full of overtime for FMS.
"It’s definitely a team effort," Randy Vercauteren, the Director of Parking, Transportation, and Building Services told me when I talked to him this morning, referring to the work the grounds and custodial crews along with Boon & Sons have been doing to clear the campus. He told me that they have been plowing since 9 A.M. yesterday morning, and are still out there working on it now. This was no ordinary storm, and they way they had to approach it was very different. The grounds crew and Boon & Sons did all the plowing, and the custodial staff shoveled out all doorways to the buildings. Randy himself was out there from 4:30 to 8 A.M. helping to unfreeze the doors to the residential buildings, which had frozen open. Some of the crew stayed in the RIT Inn last night to save commute time and get more plowing done faster.
I don’t think we can thank them enough for working tirelessly to try and make the roads safer for everyone who resides/works/goes to school at RIT. This article we posted last month details the amount of work dealing with an average snowstorm takes - about 84 man-hours for 2-4 inches of snow. Since weather stations report that we got about 15 inches of snow yesterday, that means FMS’ 15-man team along with Boon & Sons contractors have probably spent more than 500 man-hours trying to keep the roads safe for us.
FMS snowplow working through the storm to keep campus clear
Several of RIT’s dining services remained open during the blizzard to feed students living on and around campus, including Commons, Crossroads, Gracie’s, Midnight Oil, Sol’s Underground, and the Corner Store.
Fast-forward to 5 P.M., and RIT finds itself in a predicament: the power is out in several of the residential areas. Areas that were affected include University Commons, Global Village, Riverknoll Apartments, and Greek Housing. The outage also affected some ITS services, including faculty and staff email, MyCourses, and start.rit.edu. Public Safety devised contingency plans for heating and housing if the power could not be turned back on.
FMS electrical staff and ITS staff drove back to RIT through a blizzard warning issued by the National Weather Service in Buffalo and a state of emergency (declared at noon) to return power to the RIT campus and restore all ITS services. Once the power was back up around 10 P.M., ITS remained on campus through the night to bring services back online and ensure all major services remained stable.
ITS battle blizzard to restore services to RIT
Not everything about the storm was bad, though. For the first time this winter, I saw students outside having snowball fights and making forts. Stressed out students used the day off to get ahead (ahem, catch up) on work during one of the most stressful times so far in this semester - midterm time. We also got some time to relax, stay in our pajamas all day, eat some Ramen and finally catch up on Breaking Bad on Netflix.
I can say for sure as an RIT student myself that I will always remember the Blizzard of 2014, the day RIT actually closed, and all the people who worked tirelessly to keep us safe, warm, and fed during the first blizzard Rochester has seen since 1999.
By Amanda Moon