A little more than a year after Hurricane Irene disrupted orientation, downed power lines, and started a seemingly endless mold fiasco, Hurricane Sandy made landfall slightly north of St. Mary’s, causing billions of dollars of damage and dozens of lives along the east coast, but leaving a surprisingly small effect on the College campus.
As President Urgo said, Sandy did come through and the storm did shut down campus for two days. However, it proved to be not much more than a “48-hour distraction,” Urgo said. “It didn’t cause a lot of damage but it stopped us from doing anything else except keeping an eye on it.”
“That really worried me,” Goldwater said, “so I contacted Dr. Ifill and in consultation from [Officer] Brooks at Public Safety, we determined that in order to ensure student safety, it would be wise to institute the lockdown.”
Because Bon Appetit had shut down dining services and students were confined to their residences, Residence Life distributed meals to students on Sunday night and Monday morning. Goldwater said that the decision to bring the food to the residences was made the week prior to the hurricane, as part of the standard operating procedure for the College’s hurricane plan. Before Sandy hit, Bon Appetit had arranged to have extra non-perishable food delivered to the campus, and the student staff distributed the food during the storm itself, when it was determined safe.
Goldwater explained that Residence Life worked intensely before and during the storm to remain fully operational and ready. Office Associate Monica Armstrong spend much of Thursday and Friday preparing for the storm, “by stocking up on extra batteries, buying additional flashlights for staff, ensuring that our walkie-talkies were operational, preparing our “to-go” bag (which contains important documents that we would need in the event that the computer system was not working and/or Glendening Hall was damaged), and preparing rosters for all of the RHCs [Residence Hall Coordinators].”
Additionally, much of the campus staff was on-campus through the storm to “ensure the safety of students and student staff, provide assistance and support, answer questions, allay fears, provide timely information, check on leaks [and] damages, and assist with the management of the emergency situation.” Goldwater was on campus for 36 hours straight, from Monday at 5 a.m. to Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Goldwater also praised the student staff. “[They] were the front-line folks. They distributed food, determined who was here and who left campus, ensured the safety of the residents and the buildings, kept students occupied, helped us manage the lockdown,” among other things, she noted.