Lisa and I had gone back from the 12th floor party area to our room on the 3rd floor to begin decompressing and getting ready for bed. While I was composing what eventually became my previous entry, the lights went out. It was a power failure. The whole hotel went dark.
By the light of our laptop computer screens, we got out our flashlights. Lisa had two, I had one. We shut down our computers, put our shoes back on — fortunately, we hadn't yet gotten dressed for bed — and headed downstairs. That's because our room's windows won't open at all, not even to provide a bit of ventilation, and Lisa figured that if the power stayed off for long, the air would get too stuffy.
To our consternation, there were no emergency lights, not even in the stairwells. In fact, it took ten or fifteen minutes before an emergency generator kicked in and provided minimal emergency lights. That's surprising. I would have expected emergency lights to be battery operated.
Nobody was stuck in elevators. They worked in proper fail-safe mode, descending to the ground floor and opening to let people out.
The lobby had fewer people in it than I expected. The hotel, once the generators gave them enough power to do so, made a hotel-wide announcement telling people that there was no need to evacuate. I wasn't so sure at the time, given the heat and how stuffy things had gotten upstairs on the party floor. I was sure glad our own room had been on the third floor.
By now it was after midnight. Outside, it was warm, but not as oppressively hot as it had been during the day, and a light breeze helped cool things down. We talked with others who were downstairs. Michael Siladi had checked with the local utility, SMUD, which was reporting that the Cal Expo outage was affecting over 700 customers and that they were projecting a 3 AM restoration of service. Oddly, the buildings across the street and adjacent to the hotel still had their lights. The Hilton, which is the oldest building in this area, must have been on a different circuit.
Lisa and I had gone outside to see what the hotel looked like blacked out. We saw a utility truck working frantically across the street and were looking up at the darkened building when the lights came back on again. The outage had lasted less than an hour, rather than the three-plus that SMUD was predicting. We headed back up to our room which was still pleasantly cooled off and went to bed, and I put off writing about anything until this morning.