Lightning strikes Russell Sage

by Alex Shartsis | 7/22/98 5:00am

Lightning struck Russell-Sage Hall at about 4:20 p.m. on Monday, sending one student to the hospital and damaging the chimney and roof of the building.

The student, Sarah Mullin '98, was not injured.

"I was in class doing my drill for French for the [Accelerated Language Program]" when the storm started, Mullin said. "I was very upset; as a precaution they took me to the hospital."

"We were talking about verb tenses and I was writing on the chalkboard. Then it sounded like a semi -- it was the sound that might have pushed me backwards -- and I saw the lightning," Mullin said.

The sound that threw Mullin backwards "probably saved my life," she said.

All of the other people in the room, who were seated, "had been knocked out of their seats," she said.

The lightning struck the chimney and, according to Mullin, the tree next to it as well. But Facilities Operations and Management Associate Director John Gratiot said "there is no evidence that the lightning hit the tree next to the building."

The bricks were blown off the east chimney into the walkway below, and the roof was damaged. However, FO&M is "not sure if that was because of the lightning," Gratiot said.

"The good news is that we were planning on replacing that roof anyway. The contractors are starting next week," he added.

The lightning strike also brought the computer network down in the surrounding buildings, but "networking staff worked until 10:30 [Monday] night to restore service," according to a Kiewit Computation Center information release.

However some of the houses on Webster Avenue were still without service Tuesday morning, according to the release.

The release added that "it could have been worse." The replacement of underground copper cable with fiber-optic cable over the past year has made the College network "much less susceptible to lightning strikes than it used to be."

Mullin said she "used to really like thunderstorms," but added that she doesn't "know how [she is] going to react" to future storms.

Gratiot said the only other electrical systems affected were the fire alarms, and people were "working late replacing cards in fire alarm panels."

The storm also knocked down several trees around campus, on the south end of the Green, on Tuck drive, near Wheeler Hall and by the Ledyard Canoe Club.

Forcasts over the next several days call for more hazy, hot and humid conditions, as well as possible late-day thunderstorms, similar to the weather on Monday that spawned the fierce lightning on campus.

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