As Tornadoes Miss Westminster, Campus Reacts to Severe Storm



This story was reported by students in Introduction to Journalism and written by Jim Malven.


Severe storms in mid-Missouri caused a campuswide power outage that resulted in loss of Internet access for Westminster students and faculty late Monday night and early Tuesday morning. Across Fifth Street, a large fireball rose up near the Fulton Medical Center a few hours before the storm. Ash, smoke and debris blew across the road adjacent to the hospital. 

At 9:12 p.m. Monday, Westminster College sent a tornado watch alert to students on campus through the Text Caster alert system. At 9:43 p.m., Westminster sent another text alert to students stating there were power outages throughout Fulton. The message advised students to stay inside and provided the phone number of campus security.

Sophomore Nicholas Spain, who works in Reeves Library, said that the building lost power right before his shift was supposed to begin. He said that he was unable to clock in and did not get any hours, but that he and everyone else were more concerned about their friends’ safety.

“Students were motivated to make sure all their friends were okay,” Spain said.

Naima Caydiid, ’19, was also in the library when the power went out.

“I left the library to go back to my room because I couldn’t do my homework,” she said. “I tried to sleep but the storm was too loud, so I went to my friend’s room instead.”

Gage, Marquess, Rice, Scott, Sweazey, Weigel and Wetterau halls all retained power Monday night. However, they were still under the threat of a possible tornado.

Marquess Hall resident adviser John Martin, ’19, said that he made sure all of his residents were safe and indoors during the storm.

“I stayed up a little later than I normally would have on a Monday night to ensure that everyone was safe,” he said.

Residential advisers are responsible for ensuring that basements are unlocked in case students have to take shelter.

When asked about the aftermath of the storm, Diane Hammerstone, who works in the Plant Operations office, said that no one was available in the office to comment on the aftermath of last night’s storm.  “Everyone is out working on campus right now,” she said.

“I stayed up a little later than I normally would have on a Monday night to ensure that everyone was safe.” –John Martin, ’19, RA

Hammerstone said that she was unaware of any specific damages being repaired.

Assistant Director of Greek Life Nicole Elliot said that the first power outage of the year, which Monday’s was, often takes the campus by surprise.

“The RA staff is well equipped to handle emergencies, and I am happy that everything is fine this morning,” she said.

According to Kristy Chitwood, executive assistant to the vice president and dean for admissions management, Westminster employees were unable to access Outlook this morning. Slate, a program used to communicate with prospective students, was also inaccessible. While tours for prospective students have not been affected, secure login websites were unavailable.

Information technology technician Manoj Ghimire, ‘18, said that the campus Internet connection was lost last night after the power went out but that it had been restored by early this afternoon. He said that Westminster’s server, which includes Outlook and Moodle, was mostly functional by the time he left work at 1 p.m. today.

Because of the power outage, the system in the Johnson College Inn reset, causing students who were trying to buy breakfast to go through a longer process than normal.

JCI employee Jade Moshier said that the Internet outage inhibited students from checking in with the FreshX app and forced them to use their student ID cards instead.  Not all students carry their ID cards now that they can use the app from their phones.

Westminster College was not the only place that had the power outage last night. Several towns throughout mid-Missouri had power outages. At 6:30 a.m., Ameren Missouri reported power outages in Elden, Lake Ozark, Rocky Mount, Vienna area and Freeburg. The Storm Predication Center in Norman, Oklahoma, reported more than 30 tornadoes in Missouri, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa late Monday and early Tuesday morning. There were also reports of large hailstones in and around Fulton.





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