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Thursday, July 31, 2014

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4:30 P.M. AUG. 26 UPDATE - University closed for non-essential staff during Hurricane Irene

Continued updates for campus hurricane-safety response to be posted on home page

Because of severe weather expected from Hurricane Irene, Princeton University will be closed except for critical and essential staff beginning at midnight Sunday morning, Aug. 28, and lasting through at least 2 p.m. Sunday. An update will be provided after campus conditions are assessed in the wake of the storm.

This weekend, many campus facilities will be closed and various scheduled activities will be cancelled in an effort to ensure the safety and security of individuals on campus. Faculty, staff and students who do not have critical functions on campus are strongly encouraged to delay their travel.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Princeton remains under a Tropical Storm Warning, which means that tropical storm conditions are expected to develop within 48 hours, with conditions expected to worsen Saturday afternoon. The most intense portion of the storm is expected to occur between midnight and 2 p.m. Sunday. Forecasts predict heavy winds and rain of six to 10 inches or more in Mercer County and the surrounding area, which will likely make many roads impassable.

The home page, www.princeton.edu, will be the primary source for general information in the event of an actual emergency, and campus opening and closing information also will be available on the University's weather emergency hotline, (609) 258-SNOW. In the unlikely event that extreme or extended power outages don't make it possible for the University to update the home page, the University will seek to provide basic information via Princeton's Facebook page and Twitter feed.

Closures and cancellations

Members of campus should be advised of the following campus closures and rescheduling:

  • Early arrival for leaders for the Outdoor Action and Community Action pre-orientation programs who were originally scheduled to arrive on campus on Aug. 27-29 has been cancelled, and these students should plan to arrive on Tuesday, Aug. 30.
  • Early arrival for International Pre-Orientation Volunteers who were originally scheduled to arrive on campus on Aug. 27-28 has been cancelled, and these students should plan to arrive on Monday, Aug. 29.
  • Coaches of Princeton's sports teams have cancelled all practices scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 28
  • All chapel and other religious services for Sunday, Aug. 28, have been cancelled by the Office of Religious Life.
  • All campus libraries will be closed on Sunday, Aug. 28.

Students who arrive on campus this weekend will not have access to their assigned rooms until after Hurricane Irene has passed through the region.

Critical and essential employees will receive guidance from their supervisors about reporting to work. Human Resources defines critical and essential staff as "Critical/essential services employees (who) hold positions that are necessary to keeping the basic services of the University operating and support the safety, health and welfare of the University community. Examples include snow removal, dining services, security and power plant, or the academic mission of the University, such as library, research laboratories and computer services."

While move-in for most undergraduates does not take place until September -- on Sept. 3 for incoming freshmen participation in the Outdoor Action and Community Action pre-orientation programs, and Sept. 10 for other students -- arrangements for continued meal and other limited services are being made for small numbers of undergraduate students on campus for sports teams, campus research, and other functions. Most of the University's estimated 2,500 graduate students also are on campus, and these students should note that available non-emergency services will be extremely limited during the storm.

For meals, Whitman College is open for emergency personnel and for all students this weekend and next week with the following hours: 7-10 a.m. for breakfast, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch and 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. for dinner. Students may dine using Paw Points or Student Charge.

Emergency, critical and essential staff working on campus during the storm will be housed in Spelman Hall Buildings 7 and 8, beginning 9 p.m. Saturday through 5 p.m. Sunday. A Building Services employee will be available to distribute keys to authorized employees from Spelman 81, near the front door to Spelman 8. Bed linens and basic toiletries are being provided.

In preparation for the impending storm, all departments have been asked to park all University vehicles/carts in the West and/or North Garage beginning at 1:00 pm Friday, Aug. 26. Vehicles should be parked on the higher levels, avoiding the rooftop to better protect the vehicles, and vehicles should be returned to their normal parking locations as soon as possible Monday morning, Aug. 29.

Hurricane preparations urged

The University is engaged in extensive contingency planning. Facilities crews have been out assessing trees and limbs that could be vulnerable to high winds, securing scaffolding and other equipment on construction sites, and moving generators into position to ensure continuation of power in some of the University's apartment-style housing that is away from the central campus.

To preserve power for critical systems, many technology services may not be available, including research computing.

The University is strongly urging community members to consider individual emergency preparations. To prepare for a hurricane, the Centers for Disease Control and the Federal Emergency Management Agency recommend these general guidelines:

  • Fill vehicle gas tanks.
  • Stock emergency supplies that can last three to five days, including several clean containers of water, about five gallons for each person; non-perishable food; a first aid kit and manual; and a battery-powered radio, flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Adjust refrigerators and freezers to their highest settings and keep the doors closed.
  • Clear gutters and downspouts.
  • Fill bathtubs and sinks with water for flushing toilets or cleaning.
  • Stay away from windows.

In addition, all campus community members are asked to reduce electrical demand to a minimum to reduce load on the University's cogeneration plant; avoid wooded areas; and avoid construction sites, detention basins or other flooded areas.

Faculty, students and staff who have unsecured bikes on campus also should make efforts to lock their bikes in a bike rack, and if possible in an area with a shelter or overhang.

In the event of a loss of power, residents of apartment-style housing should follow this guidance:

  • Use caution within your residence and on the stairs, as lighting will be minimal.
  • Do not open your refrigerator or freezer; this will keep items cold and frozen.
  • Do not use candles or any other open flame as a light or heat source.
  • Carefully unplug carbon monoxide detectors in your residence and remove the battery if they start beeping (remove the panel located on the back of the unit to access the battery).
  • For residents of Butler Tract, Hibben-Magie, Lawrence, Stanworth and other off-campus University housing, if power fails and then is restored, please allow about two hours for the hot water, cooling and any elevators to be operational. These systems take some time to restart.
  • PROX cards needed for entry do not always work during power failures. In the event this occurs, members of the campus community should call Public Safety.

All residents of University rental housing should check to ensure that their personal property insurance coverage is up to date. Because August has been a wet month, ground saturation suggests that people with basements may experience an ingress of water or flooding. It is advisable that items not be stored in basement areas, and that residents remove and store or secure all portable equipment, lawn furniture and other items that could be damaged in severe weather. Residents are responsible for personal property.

Members of the community may report any flooding, clogged exterior drains or other hazardous conditions to the Facilities Customer Service Center at (609) 258-8000.

The University maintains an Emergency Preparedness website, which can be accessed through the "Emergency Info" link on the home page. In addition to the latest updates, this site includes emergency guidelines for the campus community and various campus emergency quick links.

The University's Office of Human Resources also maintains a weather emergency reference page for employees.

For more information about Hurricane Irene, the National Weather Service provides weather updates for the central New Jersey region on its Web site, as well as a link to the National Hurricane Center Web site.

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