Blazers in the dark


Aug. 28, 2003, midnight | 17 years ago


The first week of school is always hectic and matters aren't helped much when thunderstorms knock out the electricity. Many Blair students were left in the dark, both literally and figuratively, when school opened two hours late on Wednesday. Silver Chips Online went out and about to find out how Blazers dealt with the power outage.



CAP Junior Matthew Fritz-Mauer says he lost power on the first day of the storm. Fritz-Mauer says that he realized his power had returned early the following morning when he was awakened by the sound of his television. "I had left my TV on when the power went out so when it came back on, I woke up to the sounds of Three's Company."


"I was at the dentist when the power went out. They had all ready finished cleaning my teeth and were flossing my teeth. They had to finish checking my teeth with a flashlight," said junior Kendra Williams.


Some students even experienced the power outage while at Blair. Senior Aaron Johnson describes what it was like to be in the head-in room, the main control center of the school computer network, when the outage began: "It started with flickering, which made the uninterruptible [battery backup] power supplies beep like mad. Two servers went down at that time. Then the lights went out, causing much worse beeping. It took about 20 seconds for the backup generator to kick in, at which point all computers/servers had power, but there were still no lights." Blair has its own backup generator, but it does not power any of the regular lights and some of the power outlets in the building. This posed a serious problem in the head-in room, which has no windows and no emergency lights.


Junior Andrew Helgeson was at driving school when the power went out Monday afternoon. Class was canceled and he did not have a ride home yet. "We walked over to McDonald's and they were giving away free food because it was going to spoil," said Helgeson.


Junior Vicky Dean dealt with a family crisis. "My little brother Matt made me go with him whenever he went upstairs or in the basement, but who could blame him when it's pitch black on your whole block in the middle of the night," she said. Luckily the Dean family had stored plenty of supplies for emergencies. "I had a dozen candles already in my room and we had a couple flashlights around," Dean said. However, they ran out of batteries after the first night, and Dean was forced to shower by candlelight.


My dad tried to make an oil lamp after the power went out on Tuesday night out of a dinner plate, some kerosene, and a paper towel. It was working fine until the plate caught on fire. He tried to put it out by smothering it with a book, but the book caught on fire. Then he tried to smother it with another plate, but before he could, the first plate exploded, sending fire all over the place. Luckily he was able to stomp it out and nothing was burned.

-Ellie Blalock



When junior Luke Hanlein's house went dark during the storms on Tuesday night, he cheerfully made the best of things. "It made me happy, because I knew all that [summer] work wouldn't be due the first day," he said, "I went to sleep at 9:30 for the first time in two years."


Junior Martin Gilbert still had summer assignments to complete when he lost electricity. "I lost power at about 4 pm and I still had about four hours of work to do. So I drove to my dad's office in Rockville only to find that he didn't even have word. Neil had called my house and told my parents that he offered to let me use his computer. His power was out too, but his family had a generator, so I just used his computer to finish the work I had left. It just happened to take me until 4 am."


Reporting and writing by Emma Norvell, Erik Kojola, Elliot Wolf, Caitlin Garlow, Ellie Blalock, Ely Portillo, and Vivek Chellappa

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