Sub-zero temperatures and power shortage leaves MSU in the dark


Reporter - Elizabeth Fields
Photographer - Mason Watkins

MURRAY, Ky. -- Murray State University's campus will remain closed tomorrow as crews try to fix the pipes and other equipment damaged overnight. Forty percent of buildings on campus have frozen pipes or other damage, with the main contributor being that the university's generator did not work when it was supposed to.

The school and the TVA have an agreement that if there is an emergency shortage of power, like they had last night, the university would cut off some of it's supply. As part of that agreement, the school purchased a generator that would work to heat residential colleges and other housing facilities. When the TVA made the call on Monday night, the generator did not work and left all buildings without power.

Today was supposed to be the first day faculty and staff could return to campus after a two week shutdown, but facility management workers took their place. The university closed the campus in the past over the holiday to save money and this year was the first time it was for a full two weeks.

A Murray State spokesperson says during that time period, the thermostats are turned down and all of the equipment is unplugged. She said that it's unlikely that the policy is to blame for the damage, but more likely that sub-zero temperatures and the power shortage that the generator failed.

Once all of the damage is identified and fixed, they will begin the process of figuring out who's paying for it.

"Typically the facilities management crew will work with the administration on what was caused by the severe cold weather, what might have been caused by power outage, and then once those damages are recorded, then we'll know what will be covered by insurance and what the university will cover," MSU spokesperson Catherine Sivills said.

Sivills also said that cutting power in the extreme cold could have contributed to some, but not all of the damage to the facilities.
It could be another month or so before the costs are totaled and they figure out what is covered by insurance and what isn't. A full repairs report is expected to be completed on Wednesday.