Cleaning crew blamed for RDU power outage

Posted November 12, 2021 5:05 a.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2021 5:23 p.m. EST

— A sloppy cleaning crew was the cause of an hours-long power outage Friday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport that caused dozens of flight delays and cancellations and left stranded passengers angry and frustrated.

The outage, which affected only Terminal 2, was reported shortly after 4 a.m., and power wasn't fully restored until 11:30 a.m.

RDU spokeswoman Crystal Feldman said a large amount of water spilled by a cleaning crew seeped through a floor and onto an electrical box, tripping the system for Concourse C.

"This was a freak accident that happened," Feldman said. "We apologize for the inconvenience. This is absolutely unexpected."

There was enough power in Terminal 2 to keep the lights on, but the outage affected numerous other systems essential for operations, from ticketing to security, leaving airport staff to conduct many operations manually.

"The airlines are manually checking people in. We were manually carrying bags downstairs to go through security," Feldman said. "TSA was manually screening people."

Officials had to wait for a specialized contractor to repair the damage and restore power, leaving hundreds of passengers waiting for hours inside Terminal 2. That terminal serves all airlines except Southwest.

"There is a lot of people griping in there, and the lines are around the corner – it is backed up," traveler Katrina Machicote said.

By 7 a.m., contractors were at the airport working on repairs, and systems started coming back online within an hour.

Some airplanes in flight at the time of the outage had to be diverted to Charlotte Douglas International Airport. Other flights that hadn't left yet were canceled.

By mid-afternoon, 19 departures and 21 arrivals had been canceled, and 14 departures and nine arrivals were delayed.

Airport officials encouraged passengers to check their flight status before arriving at the airport.

Leaking water caused major outage at RDU, flights in the air diverted to other airports

A woman whose flight was originally scheduled for 7 a.m. didn't know what to think.

"I'm feeling anxious [and] frustrated, although I know it's nobody's fault," she said.

Amanda Ocampo had to change flights a couple of times, and by Friday afternoon, she said she hoped she would finally be able to get in the air.

"Once I checked in, they had already canceled that flight and pushed me to a 1:55 [p.m.] flight,” Ocampo said. "I feel bad for all the people that have funerals and weddings.”

Machicote was one of those people. She said she would have to drive to Charlotte to catch another flight so she could make it to her brother's funeral in Atlanta on time.

"What type of crap is that?" she said of her disrupted itinerary. "I am just very upset. ... Now I have to drive, like, 2½ hours, and I don’t know North Carolina like that."

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