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Restoration Crews - Crews mobilize on campus in an attempt to restore power to the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Wooster campus.
Generator Setup - Employees run several wires from generators in an attempt to restore power to buildings on campus.
Call for Support - Around two dozen generators were brought in from as far away as Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Power Prep - Employees working through the night hooking up cables to generators.
Extra Power - One of four large generators crews used to power buildings in the dark.
Campus Power - Crews set up this generator outside Gerlaugh Hall, which houses the Department of Animal Sciences.
Cable Connections - Crews bring in thousands of feet of cable to power campus buildings in the dark.
Tree on Campus - Area thunderstorms caused this tree to fall into this house located in the city of Wooster.
Tree on House - This tree on campus is one of several that were knocked down in the area by severe weather.

Robert Baughman, assistant director of support services for Ohio State’s Facilities Operations and Development (FOD), was unwinding from a busy day at work at home with his family, when his phone rang. On the other end was Brett Garrett, his supervisor.

“Usually, when Brett calls me at 6 p.m., I know something’s going on,” Baughman said.

Garrett, FOD’s senior director of engineering and infrastructure, called to tell Robert about a power outage impacting the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) Wooster campus. OTuesday, June 14, severe thunderstorms rolled through the area, causing widespread outages in Wayne County.

“He said there’s an 8 a.m. call and we want you to be on it in Wooster,” Baughman said. “I thought ahead and packed myself a bag just in case I had to stay overnight.”

The decision would prove to be a valuable one. Baughman left home at 4 a.m. the next morning for Wayne County not knowing that the CFAES Wooster campus would be his home for the foreseeable future.

“The closer I got to campus, the worse things got,” Baughman said. “There were trees down all over the place and telephone poles were snapped.”

The area has been hit with storms and tornados before, but this was more widespread according to Anne Dorrance, associate dean of the CFAES Wooster campus. Power was restored by AEP to some areas of the 4,200 acre campus but not the central core area nor was it predicted to be restored until the weekend and temperatures were soaring. Concerned her colleagues would be in for some big losses, Vice President and Dean of CFAES Cathann Kress asked for assistance.

“Our facilities team was spent by the end of the first day after trying to get back-up generators working and providing support for all of the animal units,” Dorrance said. “I was relieved when we received the first call that help was on the way.”

When Baughman arrived on campus, he linked up with staff from CFAES Wooster to get to work. He sat in on the hour-long call with FOD maintenance staff from both the CFAES Wooster and Columbus campuses. The purpose of the call was to determine what needs exist on campus to continue operations there.

“When you have animals in a building and they’re experiencing 97 to 100 F days, we can’t just leave them in here to die from heat exhaustion,” Baughman said. “We have to get some cooling and air movement in there to keep them alive.”

Faye Bodyke, director of projects for FOD, also played a key role in the restoration effort. She coordinated with contractors to locate equipment, including generators.

“I saw the local news and had already seen photos of the damage and knew waiting until the morning was going to place us further behind,” Bodyke said. “I started the search that night for generators and electricians.” 

Crews brought in four large generators, five medium-sized generators and 10 to 15 10,000 watt or smaller generators from as far away as Illinois and Pennsylvania. The largest generator was used to provide chilled water to the campus buildings with freezers. 

Morgan Richardson, an FOD project manager, was responsible for having 4,600 pounds of dry ice delivered to campus to secure research. They also brought in fans to aid in the cooling effort.

Baughman says American Electric Power (AEP) restored power around 9 p.m. Thursday night.

Nearly 30 people, including staff from Ohio State’s Columbus campus, Wooster campus maintenance crews and contractors were all involved in the power restoration effort.

“When we’re powering up a building, it’s not just an extension cord that you plug in,” Baughman said. “In the case of Selby Hall, we had to run cables from the generator up the side of the building, across the roof, into the penthouse, around a corner, under a fence and finally into the switch gear.” Overall, maintenance crews used 10,000 feet of cable.

The power outage lasted three days.

“I honestly cannot thank this team enough,” said Dorrance. “Everyone worked together to save the precious research and to keep everyone safe throughout this whole event.  We have a lot to be proud of from the many teams that came together.”

“Our team is so grateful for the outstanding response during the storm recovery and outage that hit our CFAES Wooster campus,” said Dr. Graham Cochran, professor and associate dean for operations for CFAES. “From the initial response by OSUPD Officer Justin Estill who was on duty that night to the entire team who assembled immediately to develop and implement a plan to minimize impact to critical functions, the work was an incredible team effort.”

Luckily, crews are prepared for these types of events.

“Several buildings on the Columbus campus have emergency and standby generators,” Garrett said. “We have a robust program, which tests those generators to make sure they function when these types of events occur.” 

Associate Dean Dorrance says they have learned a lot through this process and will now begin to prepare their buildings for a more expedited response to keep something like this from happening again.