Hurricane Sandy, a category-one hurricane, hit F&M early this past week. The storm caused heavy rain and winds, leading to a two-day closure of the College, but almost no damage to the campus.
All classes, club meetings, practices, and events were canceled and certain non-essential offices were closed on Monday and Tuesday. Students who were on campus during the storm were advised to remain indoors, to charge their electronic devices, and to remain alert for updates on F&M’s website as well as emails or texts from the College.
Several offices and departments worked to prepare F&M for the hurricane. According to William McHale, director of Public Safety, efforts to secure the College were taken by senior administrators who he describes as all the major players on campus.
The dining hall was stocked with seven days’ worth of food and was opened to all students, regardless of whether or not they have a meal plan. Water pumps and generators were checked to ensure they were working properly and loose equipment lying around campus was brought inside or secured.
Certain college officials remained on campus during the storm.
“We wanted to make sure we had adults on campus, so the Dean had some Dons and Prefects on campus almost 24/7,” McHale said.
One of these adults was Dan Porterfield, president of the College, who frequently posted to his Twitter account describing various goings-on during the hurricane. He also posted a number of photos from the storm showing students getting food at the dining hall, studying in Ware College House, playing football in Buchanan Park, and more.
“The campus survived the storm very well,” McHale said.
Damage was minimal, consisting mainly of fallen leaves and brush. The worst of the storm had passed by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, and a number of offices were able to reopen that same day. Wednesday classes resumed and all offices returned to usual operations.
Prior to the storm, College officials met to discuss what measures should be taken to prepare the campus for Sandy’s arrival. According to McHale, F&M has a Crisis Management Team (CMT) composed of himself, members from the IT department and communications office, President Porterfield, Kent Trachte, dean of the College, and other important officials.
According to McHale, the team coordinated efforts to prepare the campus for the hurricane and kept in touch with students, staff, and faculty via text and email alerts as well as through online updates.
Thankfully, Hurricane Sandy did not affect F&M as severely as the rest of Lancaster County. According to an article in the Lancaster Intelligencer-Journal, the County experienced a number of power outages, downed trees, road closures, flooding, and one storm-related death. Local damages from the storm are estimated to be around $2 million.
Making landfall in New Jersey, the storm caused damages up and down the Eastern Seaboard, from Georgia to New England. According to weather.com, as of Wednesday there were 5.9 million people without power on the East Coast and 47 deaths as a result of the hurricane.
According to the same article on weather.com, Sandy caused an estimated $50 billion in damages; these figures, if accurate, make Sandy the second-costliest storm in American history after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
“Right now, our number-one priority is to make sure that we are saving lives, that our search-and-rescue teams are going to be in place, that people are going to get the food, the water, the shelter that they need,” said Barack Obama, president of the United States, in a press conference on Monday.
Kyle Graczyk ’16, a student from New Jersey, noted the effects the storm had on his hometown.
“My family’s been waiting in line for hours for gas,” Graczyk said. “Also, we had to tie our generator to the house so no one steals it. I mean, it kind of looks like a war zone, especially down by Long Beach Island and Lavallette, and there is sand a few blocks in.”
At F&M, however, the combined efforts of students, staff, and faculty made sure no serious recovery is necessary. Some students even found the storm to be underwhelming.
“This was my first hurricane! I was expecting much more!” said Amer Suljendic ’15, a student from Bosnia.
“It’s nice to see, sometimes in bad times, you come together as a family and you get the job done. I’m very pleased by the end result,” McHale said.
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