As the sun set on the University of Maine campus Monday night, droves of students could be seen walking with pillows and blankets across campus, ready to sleep on a gym floor in the recreation center, or in armchairs in the student union.

Nearly a dozen dormitories on the Orono campus lost power early Monday from a storm that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands across the state. About 1,500 students were evacuated from their dorms and told to spend the night in the New Balance Student Recreation Center or the Memorial Union.

“Without power, fire suppression systems are off in the residence halls and there is no illumination for emergency exits in the dark,” said Margaret Nagle, senior director of public relations and operations for the university.

Around 5:30 p.m., students dotted the gymnasium floor at the rec center, or were reclining on armchairs in the student union.

“It’s stressful because you don’t know who you’re sleeping next to,” said 19-year-old Rebecca Janssen, a sophomore at the university. She joked that the situation it felt like “survival of the fittest,” because sleeping spots were first come, first served.

Janssen and two friends had staked out a place on a couch in the Memorial Union, where they would likely have to sleep upright.

[ Many roads remain closed after wind, rain slam Maine]

The evacuations started at 3:30 p.m. in residential buildings on the west side of the Orono campus, according to a news alert on the university’s website.

Students in Balentine, Penobscot, Colvin, Estabrooke, Oak, Hart and Hancock dorms were evacuated to the New Balance Student Recreation Center. Those in York, Kennebec, Aroostook and Stodder were sent to the Memorial Union.

The evacuated dormitories will be closed until further notice, according to the news alert. Classes have been canceled until 5 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1.

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