Sandy sweeps the East Coast, univ. cancels class
Published: Sunday, October 28, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 22, 2013 19:04
Last August, Hurricane Irene swept the East Coast, touching on North Carolina before bulldozing the Northeast, and left a trail of destruction, heavy rainfall and high winds in its wake. Students were unable to begin classes on Aug. 30, as originally planned and many were able to stay home to ride out the storm.
This year, a different Category 1 hurricane has also caused the university to cancel classes. With Hurricane Sandy fast approaching the Mid-Atlantic coast, the center of the storm is expected to near the coast tomorrow night. It is expected to bring a life-threatening storm surge four to 11 feet high, harsh winds up to 80 mph and a foot of rain, according to the National Hurricane Center website. The university has canceled classes through Tuesday and has advised students to go home if at all possible.
University emergency preparedness coordinator, Marcia Nickel, said she urges students to heed the warnings, stay inside and stay off the roads. Services will still be available for students who remain on campus.
“We didn’t have a lot of students on campus for Irene,” Nickel said. “This could be a more severe impact because students are on campus, and a lot more effects we could see because of the amount.”
To prepare, Nickel said the university increases staffing to take care of any issues that could arise. All police officers are coming in through Wednesday and campus patrols have increased. They also have secured anything that could be blown around on campus, such as benches and garbage cans. Leaves have been raked aside to prevent students from slipping.
Students who have remained on campus in dorms had to fill out forms to do so. Nickel said they try to keep track of students who stay in the dorms, but they prefer any who can get home for the weekend to do so.
“It seems we’re being preemptive,” Nickel said. “Not a lot of universities have canceled classes like we have.”
Sandy pummeled the Caribbean Thursday, taking 44 lives in Haiti, 11 in Cuba and four more in the Bahamas, Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, according to CNN.
What makes Sandy potentially more serious than Irene is that a wintry storm system from the west and cold air coming down from the Arctic is expected to collide with Sandy. The extent of this convergence is unknown as of yet, but the hurricane winds are supposed to strengthen after this collision, according to the NHC.
Nickel said it will be a full moon on Monday, bringing the highest tide of the month. Inland streams and rivers will already be at their highest levels and the addition of the storm could bring storm surges up to six feet high in Delaware.
“We’ve been very wet and there’s a concern about how much streams and rivers can hold, not so much in Newark, but other parts of the state,” Nickel said.
States of emergency have been declared in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington D.C. and a coastal county in North Carolina, according to BBC. Delaware has ordered a mandatory evacuation of 50,000 people living in coastal areas.
Nickel said if the forecast holds true and Delaware Bay gets a direct hit from Sandy, it could be “one of the worst tracks it could take,” bringing down trees, power outages and extensive damage to buildings.
The university is “optimistic” about the storm not being a threat to student life, according to Nickel.
“I guess you can never really say ‘Never’ about something like that,” she said.
Senior Maggie Berkowitz prepared for Sandy by stocking up on batteries for her flashlights, buying candles and making sure her car was not parked under any trees. She said she is glad the university canceled classes for Monday to allow students to get home and not to worry about classes. She said she thinks the cancellation of classes for Tuesday might be a bit preemptive.