Rain brings flooding, power loss

A Tuesday afternoon thunderstorm caused flooding and power outages across the AU campus, forcing the Washington College of Law to cancel Wednesday classes, and has been blamed for a car accident that slightly injured an AU graduate student.

The swift rainfall brought flooding to stairwells in several buildings and the Nebraska Parking Lot and knocked out power in Nebraska Hall and the WCL building, according to Willy Suter, director of Physical Plant Operations.

WCL was still out of power Wednesday, and all day and evening classes were cancelled. Suter said that at about 1 p.m. he heard that electricity had returned to the building.

As of press time, it was unknown whether WCL would have classes today.

Nebraska Hall, which is on a different power grid from the main campus, lost power between 5:30 and 6 p.m. Tuesday, Suter said. By Wednesday morning the lights were back on.

The graduate student who was hit by a car was crossing Nebraska Avenue near the Ward Circle Building about 5:30 p.m. Tuesday when he was hit. He was taken to Sibley Hospital, where he was treated for "cuts and bruises," and released shortly afterward.

According to a police report, the driver, Charles Henry Smith of Alexandria, Va., turned while the student, Adam Yeeles, was crossing the street. The report said that the rain obstructed Smith's vision, which police listed as the primary cause of the accident.

However, Yeeles said that it had stopped raining when he crossed the street, although the road was still wet.

Almost one inch of rain was measured at Ronald Reagan National Airport, said meteorologist Michelle Margraf of the National Weather Service. She said that most of this rain fell between 3 and 8 p.m. Tuesday.

Suter called the storm "an exceptional amount of rain in a short amount of time."

Suter said that this type of rainfall could wash debris into storm drains and flood buildings. This caused flooding in the lower level of Bender Library, stairwells in Leonard Hall and the Ward Circle Building and the Nebraska Lot.

Two basement rooms in the McKinley Building were also flooded, and roof leaks were reported in Anderson and Hughes Halls, Suter said. A window track in Letts Hall overflowed with water, probably because the window was open when the rain started, he said.

Margraf said that winds of up to 53 miles per hour were recorded in the District Tuesday. Trees fell all over the city, including one that fell on two cars in the parking lot near the Watkins Art Gallery.

There was a report of a fallen tree on the Tenley Campus, but Physical Plant staff could not find the tree, Suter said.

He also heard that a District utility pole fell and narrowly missed an AU shuttle bus, but this report was "anecdotal," Suter said.

Everything on campus has been fixed, Suter said, except the two damaged cars. Physical Plant staff and Aramark housekeeping staff responded to the reports, he said.

Pepco spokesman Bob Dobkin said that 13,000 customers in the District lost power because of the storm. Most of these customers were in Northwest D.C., he said.

"Most of the damage was caused by trees, some by lightning," Dobkin said.

He said that while it was hard to estimate when electricity would return, he hoped most customers would have it back today. Some customers may have to wait until Friday for power, he said.

He suggested that people who see downed power lines call (202)872-3432. Those experiencing power outages should call (877)PEPCO-62.

Officer Junis Fletcher of the Metropolitan Police Department said that "nothing unusual" was reported in the area surrounding AU Tuesday.

"Nothing other than a few trees down," Fletcher said.

Margraf forecasted milder weather for today, with no precipitation.

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