By Ben Suazo, Assistant News Editor
"REPORTS FROM…NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE DOPPLER RADAR INDICATE THAT THE CENTER OF IRENE MOVED OVER NEW YORK CITY AROUND 900 AM EDT...IRENE HAS WEAKENED TO A TROPICAL STORM AND THE ESTIMATED INTENSITY AT LANDFALL WAS 65 MPH..."
-National Hurricane Center
Hofstra students were carefully checking the news and their emails last weekend, as New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg called for an evacuation of the city's lowest-lying areas, and Long Island braced for the impact of Hurricane Irene.
Students and staff were informed at noon on Friday, Aug. 26 that the University would be closed for the day excepting for essential services, such as the food service at the Mack Student Center.
Tower residents were moved to Nassau-Suffolk Hall from Saturday afternoon, their possessions left behind to brave the storm, until an all-clear was given on Monday.
"[We] were advised [by Public Safety] that anyone who was living in our high rise area, which at that time was Alliance Hall…and also…summer athletes [in Vander Poel]…we should reassign them temporarily to ensure the safety of them for the sake of the winds," said Associate Dean Lynda O'Malley. "We did reassign people from the high rise areas to Nassau-Suffolk Hall temporarily, and then on Monday when we could see that all was well with the storm we were able to allow people to go back to their assignments."
A tree fell near the Human Resources office and the high rises experienced some flooding. Overall, the University survived Tropical Storm Irene without reports of major damage.
The Dean of Students office coordinates many aspects of Student Affairs, including Residential Programs, and is a large part of organizing students in the event of an emergency. Public Safety updates Student Affairs about storms and other emergency situations to ensure students are prepared for various scenarios.
There is a tool on the Hofstra website listing different responses to unusual scenarios. In the event of a hurricane, the listed protocol is to evacuate residents to the Mack Sports And Exhibition Complex or the Physical Education Center, although this step was not deemed necessary with the few programs that remained on campus for the end of summer.
"Basically we give them [the Office of Student Affairs and Residential Programs] the information of how students should be preparing their rooms; make sure it's prepared for leaks," said Erika Schaub, Director of Public Safety.
"Then if they're going to leave they need to let the RA know so we know to check, and to pull stuff away from windows. We are very lucky that we only had a handful of programs that were on campus, so they notified those groups to make sure that there were plans in place for those students."
Students were also advised to stay with nearby family or friends as an alternative to Nassau-Suffolk.
Calla Hales, a senior living in Massapequa for the summer, housed three friends during the storm. Hales was fortunate not to see significant damage near her home.
"I walk outside, and nothing was really gone, just branches, like minor branches and stuff, but there wasn't any real flooding—it was kind of like the Hofstra puddles," said Hales.
Hales had the opportunity to drive around Long Island and see how fortunate she had been in comparison to other residents.
"When you got really close to marinas, some houses were really bad," Hales said. "I remember driving past a house that the entire front yard was underwater. The pipes burst. And in some older neighborhood [an] entire tree, because it was so old, just crashed in the middle of the street."
Emily O'Brien was an Orientation Leader who had recently moved to Liberty Hall when Irene struck. Although she felt personally secure in her residence hall, she was less confident about the safety of other Leaders' belongings.
"I was worried once I heard some of the towers had flooded, only because I know we [Orientation Leaders] had just moved there," said O'Brien.
O'Brien had family in Massachusetts and could have left campus, but she felt safe enough to stay.
"My family was really worried. They wanted me to go to Western Massachusetts but I didn't really want to travel on the day that I moved from the towers to my Fall housing, so I was like, ‘no I'm not going to do that, I'll stick it out,'" said O'Brien. "I mean, the hurricane woke me up a couple of times, but it wasn't that exciting."
Hofstra emergency weather updates are available at www.hofstra.edu/alert