Ashtabula campus closed after ice storm hits Northeast Ohio

Julianna Frantz

A massive ice storm hit Northeast Ohio Tuesday, coating power lines and trees in a blanket of ice, causing more than 50,000 Illuminating Co. customers to be without power, making it necessary to close Kent State Ashtabula Campus Wednesday and Thursday.

On Wednesday, Ashtabula County Sheriff William Johnson declared a state of emergency, asking people to stay off the roads until branches and power lines could be cleared.

Susan Stocker, dean of Ashtabula campus, said classes had been canceled for the past two days because the campus had no power and many students who live in the area have no power as well. She said since the power was out, there was also no need for staff to report.

“A lot of students, as well as faculty and staff, have no power in their homes,” Stocker said. “So it’s just a lot to worry about.”

She said that the campus had originally only canceled morning classes in hopes that the campus would be ready Thursday afternoon.

“We had no power on Wednesday, and only partial power Thursday morning.” Stocker said. “We have full power now, but the heating system isn’t working correctly.”

In addition to the power being out, the campus is also littered with downed tree limbs. Stocker said this is a safety issue for students.

“We’re trying to get them cleaned up so that students can walk safely from building to building,” Stocker said.

It is ultimately up to Stocker to decide whether classes are canceled for the day.

Stocker said in a normal snow-event type situation it is always hard to make that decision, because all the students who attend the campus are commuters and have to travel some length.

“Students are adults, and in the event that I don’t cancel classes, they are to use their own judgment on whether or not to come to class.” Stocker said.

According to the First Energy Corp. Web site, there were still an estimated 10,000 Ashtabula county customers without power, with the most power outages being reported in Ashtabula and Conneaut Thursday afternoon.

The electric company was hoping to have power restored to the majority of customers by midnight.

Contact regional campus reporter Julianna Frantz at [email protected].