1999-12-11 / Front Page

Lights Out At School

Faulty and staff members at St. Rose of Lima were busy huddling around the only two working phones. Pictured (left to right) are Sister Barbara King, Frances Mangan, Susan Freese, Barbara Jessen, Kathy Judge, and Bridget Murphy.

By John McLoughlin

While attending to a gas main break at Beach 84 street and Rockaway Beach boulevard, a crew from the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) faced a partial power outage on Thursday, December 2 at approximately 5:00 a.m. The cable failure resulted in a power outage throughout St. Rose of Lima School. Half of the classrooms and the school furnace were affected, which was on one of the coldest nights of the season to date.

When the school custodian discovered the power outage at 7:00 a.m., he immediately notified Theresa Andersen, principal of the school. With school beginning at 8 a.m., and many students traveling from all ends of Rockaway, there was little time to prepare. More than half of the school's population was already enroute, with some students arriving as early as 7:30 and parents heading to work.

Keeping the safety and welfare of students as her first priority, Andersen decided to cancel classes for the day. Children who were brought by their parents to school were sent home, while staff in the gym monitored those who arrived by bus until parents could be contacted.

According to a LIPA spokesperson, electricity was restored about three hours later, but because of further work on the cable St. Rose did not have electricity until 1 p.m. that day.

This was the second encounter with LIPA that the school had in two days. On Wednesday, December 1, Andersen and her teachers smelled gas. Obviously concerned, Andersen went outside and noticed a LIPA truck. After questioning an employee, she was informed of the gas main break just feet away from the school.

"It was irresponsible on their [LIPA] behalf to not notify people of a gas main break," Andersen said. She called it a "potential tragedy" for her more than 300 students.

After the events Wednesday and Thursday, Andersen could only wonder, "What's going to happen Friday." She was happy to report that it was "school as usual."


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