Fall 2021 Hurricane Management Update

9 August 2021

Dear AMU Community,

The University has been evaluating and refining its hurricane management.  While the AMU campus is hardened to the extent that structural damage to the buildings themselves is not a concern, a critical issue is loss of electrical power for a considerable length of time. AMU has some electric power generation capability but not enough to keep the campus running normally, in particular the HVAC system. Even a 12-24 hour loss of electrical power to the AMU campus could become a major challenge for maintaining comfortable living conditions in most of the buildings.  

Therefore, we have determined to move away from describing ourselves as a “shelter in place” facility for the purposes of significant hurricane storms. The AMU protocol for approaching storms, when they appear to reach a level of strength at which a power outage is likely, is to wait, watch, and then–no less than 72 hours before the expected arrival of a storm–declare whether there will be an evacuation declaration. In the case of an evacuation, everyone who can leave campus and seek shelter, MUST. Anyone who simply has no place to go (such as international students) can apply for permission to remain on-campus through the storm. The purpose of the 72-hour notification is to allow for an informed judgment to be made about the likely path of the storm without waiting so long that evacuation becomes impossible. 

In choosing to remain on campus during an evacuation order, those given permission should understand:

1) While their physical safety may not be at huge risk, their comfort is not certain.

2) They will not be allowed to continue residing in their dorm rooms but will be moved to a central location.

3) By remaining on campus, they agree to volunteer their labor as part of the work teams preparing for and cleaning up after any storm occurrence.

Of course, there is the real possibility that an evacuation declaration will be issued and then the storm change direction or diminish in size and strength. The University recognizes this possibility—in fact, has experienced it in the past—but nonetheless will always choose “the safe path” when it comes to making these decisions.  

In the event inclement weather poses a real or potential safety threat to the University community, class instruction will be moved to the online modality and continued without interruption. The annual academic calendar will continue to be followed and no instructional time will be lost. Students and faculty will use the Canvas platform, MS Teams, and other online learning resources. If a power outage is anticipated, faculty should distribute instructions, assignments, and projects, so that students can continue to follow the syllabus during the interruption. 

Most AMU campus buildings will be closed and locked in the event of an evacuation declaration.  

At the point of “campus lockdown,” faculty and staff are not allowed to “weather the storm” in their offices or come and go from campus buildings. Students are not allowed to remain in their dormitory rooms and staff housed on campus will also not be allowed to remain in their rooms. Anyone remaining on campus will be moved to a central location and locked out of their dorms or offices.  Undergraduate students will not be allowed to remain in Middlebrooke and must evacuate.  

Staff and graduate students at Middlebrooke are encouraged to evacuate, but if they choose to remain, should understand they do so at their own risk.    

Thank you for your patience and understanding as we navigate these potential storm occurrences. 

The Emergency Management Team