Power outage hits campus, greater Portage County as storm rolls through area

A downed power line in Ravenna on Sunday, April 14, 2019. All of Portage County was speckled with power outages, and numerous roads in Ravenna with littered with debris from tree branches. 

Kent State was shrouded in darkness Sunday afternoon. The hum of generators and blaring police sirens echoed across campus. The sky blackened, and pelting rain filled roads and overwhelmed storm drains.

Some students were shepherded into basements, others attempted to continue their Sunday homework with limited light.

Portage County was under a tornado warning, the 163,000 residents dealing with the repercussions of Mother Nature’s storm.

At 5:38 p.m., KSU students received a Flash ALERT that Portage County was under a tornado warning. At approximately 6:06 p.m., campus lost power. According to First Energy, 5,500 customers lost power in Portage County (7%) and less than 2% lost power in Summit County.

From eight elevator entrapments of multiple students in buildings including Stopher, Olson, Koonce, Verder and Leebrick (trapped on the 12th floor) Halls to everyone in the library evacuating to the dark basement, the power outage left its impact on students across Kent’s campus.

Students in the Center for Architecture and Environmental Design found themselves with lost work if they were working on desktops and hadn’t thought about saving in a while. 

Amidst sounds of bored students playing ping pong to pass the time and others yanking on the locked front doors due to the downed security system, the architecture building had its fair share of black-out panic.

“Everything kicked off and all of our computers shut down unless you were working on a laptop, and then the emergency lights kicked on,” Faith Chrostowski, a senior architecture major, said. “I don’t know if the generator is running or not. Emergency lights are running but not the plugs to get our computers to turn back on. ”

Chrostowski had been working on a senior project with her group when the desktops they had been working on went dark.  

“We’re in final production for our big project due in two weeks, and I was just working on some drawings,” she said. “I hadn’t saved in a while, and they’re pretty much gone. 

“We definitely lost a few hours of work, which is my fault for not saving more often.”

Despite losing hours of work, Chrostowski tried to think positively.     

“Computers save backup files, so hopefully we’ll be able to recover some of it, but we’ll see,” she said. “Who knows how long it’ll be until they turn back on?”


Students in the residence halls also had to adjust their schedule for the storm, as students in Tri-Towers gathered in the Rotunda while waiting for the power to come back on.

Rumors of a gas leak as the reason for the Student Center closing until Monday morning and a fire in the Student Wellness and Recreation Center circled on social media as the presence of firetrucks and smell of diesel from the generators served as fuel to the speculations.

The devastation wasn’t limited to Kent’s campus either, as surrounding cities were speckled with damage caused by the storm, ranging from minor inconveniences such as standing water in the road to whole branches blocking roads.

In a Ravenna neighborhood, police used flare lights and trucks to dictate the flow of traffic in an attempt to limit congestion.

Natalie Swallow, a senior visual communication design major, was in her home in Kent when the storm hit.

“My front door is flooding and there’s hail everywhere,” Swallow said. “All the screens on our windows flew off. And I have no power.”

Despite campus power returning at 7:23 p.m., Swallow’s power remained off throughout Sunday evening.

“Currently, we have candles everywhere,” Swallow said. “We are using what’s left of our laptops to charge our phones. Food-wise, we’re just eating cold, leftover pizza.

“We used a hot spot to do our homework. We’re bunkering down and waiting it out.”

At 8:39 p.m., the weather advisory was officially canceled on campus via Flash ALERT. It is unknown at this time when power will return to homes in Portage County.

Henry Palattella is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].

McKenna Corson is the managing editor. Contact her at [email protected].

Adriona Murphy contributed to this story.