By Taylor Baker
As of Sunday Aug. 28 Long Island braced for Hurricane Irene and so did The College. This was one of the worst Hurricanes the East Coast had seen in a while. After the storm cleanup efforts were underway.
“I called a meeting of the College’s emergency response team to discuss the College’s preparation for this storm. Topic areas we discussed included communications, staffing in the areas of public safety and plant operations in the event of a loss of utilities. Please be assured that the College will base its decisions during this period on what it considers to be in the best interest of protecting the safety of our students, faculty and staff,” said College President Dr. Shaun L. McKay in a brief dissemenated through the College email system.
Two days later on Aug. 27 McKay sent another email.
“As Hurricane Irene has continued its track northward, and the College has been closely monitoring the storm’s progress… I have made the decision to cancel the first day of classes on Monday, Aug. 29. I believe cancelling classes on Monday will enable our plant operations staff to clean up our campuses following the storm and will also provide our students and staff with the increased ability to reach our campuses safely when classes resume,” he said.
Irene hit Sunday, Aug. 28, causing high winds, fallen trees, and damage to structures, and a lot of power outages. The College physical plant and maintenance crews with the assistance of an outside tree removal company did the clean up for the Ammerman Campus.
“We were very fortunate no damage [was] done to any of the buildings. Just a number of trees fell–eight large trees and numerous branches and leaves,” said Ammerman Campus Plant Operations Director Ed Benz . “We had one tree fall on the NFL Building with minimal damage, ” he said.
Eight staff members were on the Ammerman campus on Sunday and Monday with a sufficient amount of vehicles, which was a full staff. Nine staff member stayed for overtime as the clean up continued into Tuesday and Wednesday. The crews spent approximately 400 hours on clean up all together.
The crews didn’t have to wait for LIPA to fix the lines before working on any trees because as Benz said, “The Ammerman Campus never lost power. We were very fortunate. Again, most of the trees fell on the roadways or in areas where no damage occurred.”
With power outages on the minds of students, they were pleased with the school’s response to the storm’s clean up, as well as the fact that they had no classes on that Monday.
“I was very happy with how the school acted. It would have been difficult for people to park on Tuesday with tree limbs in parking spots; it’s hard enough trying to get a spot in the first place. I was also happy to hear they closed the school Monday,” said Doug Baum who is in his fourth semester at the College.
In a later email on Monday Aug. 29 McKay stated Long Island had a date with Irene. What a way to begin the semester, with cancelled classes… that was the absolutely correct decision. The brief mentioned that McKay extended the College’s thanks to the men and women from various College departments who worked all weekend to keep the college up and running.