Residents of Waters Residence Hall at the University of Wisconsin-Madison vacated the dorm due to a power outage Friday night.
They were instructed by the university to find overnight accommodations with nearby friends, family or head to Carson Gulley Center where UW Housing staff placed residents in hotels on or near the 80 bus line, according to a UW-Madison Housing alert issued at 11:22 p.m.
A blown transformer caused a power outage that started at approximately 7 p.m. on Friday. The outage also impacted buildings on Observatory Hill including Sewell Social Sciences and Ingraham Hall. However, power returned to those buildings at 7:30 p.m., according to a UW-Madison news release.
Later on Saturday morning, UW-Madison announced that Liz’s Market, the dining hall in Waters Residence Hall, would be closed for the entirety of the day. Power was restored after 11 a.m. on Saturday morning, but residents were asked to stay out of their dorms because of electrical testing. At 12:30 p.m., residents were allowed to return to their dorms at Waters.
“While the cause of the blown transformer has not yet been determined, power and heat have been restored,” the university news release stated.
Pramana Saldin, a first-year student living in Waters, described the chaos of the evening. Saldin was away from his dorm when UW Housing notified him about the need to vacate. When the power first went out, fellow residents on Saldin’s floor were uncertain of what was going on.
“Everyone went out of their rooms and just said ‘Yo, what is happening,’ and we did not really get any information from [UW housing] officials until pretty late that night,” Saldin said.
Saldin was able to sleep on a friend’s dorm floor in a nearby residence hall. Since UW Housing notified individuals at approximately 11:30 p.m. on Friday to vacate, Saldin said it was difficult for many people to find nearby accommodations with friends outside of Waters.
“They should have communicated way earlier that we were supposed to evacuate because none of us were really prepared for that as late as they notified us,” Saldin said.
Lia Lejonvarn, another first-year student and Waters resident, went to the Carson Gulley Center to get assigned a hotel room on Friday evening after receiving the notification to vacate.
“Me and my roommate both were trying to sleep when we got the email that we had to be out by 1 [a.m.], so we packed as fast as we could and went to Carson’s,” Lejonvarn said. “There was a line when we got there, and we had to wait a while to get our hotel assignment.”
Lejonvarn and her roommate received one of the first hotel rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn.
“It was just a lot of waiting around and not knowing what was going to happen,” Lejonvarn said. “We were both stressed out because we weren’t sure if we would be able to go back on Saturday. Everyone was just really tired and stressed.”
Hotel checkout was extended to 1 p.m. to allow residents more time to return home.
“I'm happy that the electricity was fixed and that I can sleep in my bed tonight,” Saldin concluded.
Noe Goldhaber is a staff writer for the Daily Cardinal specializing in campus and state news reporting.