Irene gets personal

The 2011-2012 school year started with a bang as hurricane Irene ripped through the east coast on the weekend of August 26th. First-year students were forced to move into their dorms in the rain. The storm did not show its true colors until late Saturday evening.

James Magee, director of safety and security on Eastern’s campus, says that the campus was hit as seriously as he was expecting.

“The campus was hit fairly hard,” Magee recalls, “We began preparing one week prior to the hurricane.”

Preparations included making sure that vehicles were properly fueled, ensuring that there was constant man-power on hand in case of an emergency, and staying in communication with the surrounding townships.

Campus security teamed up with Radnor Township’s Emergency Operation Center so that they could contact police case of an emergency. At the height of the storm, a student had to be rushed to the emergency room due to complaints of abdominal pain unrelated to Irene, proving the communication system useful.

During the night, tree limbs were scattered across the gym parking lot, power lines were downed and one tree entirely cut power to Ott Hall.

A tornado watch in the area forced students to move to the lower floors of their buildings and congregate in hallways. In Kea-Guffin Hall, it was thought that gas leaked through the halls causing students to be evacuated to the basement of Gough Hall.

“Students did great”, Magee says of their cooperation during the storm. “They went where they were supposed to go when they were told to go. They were really helpful”.

Magee recalls at 3 or 4, Sunday morning, the three lakes on campus became one. “At Walton Lake, water was rushing over the walls on the path, and it was about 10 inches deep at the water wheel.” Most buildings lost power throughout the height of the hurricane.

Although the campus was hit hard, there were no permanent damages. Volunteers were on hand and enough precautions were taken to ensure that the campus was properly prepared.

In the future, Rador Township will be starting a Code Red System. It will be an alert system in times of severe weather and will deliver immediate information to the area, including Eastern.

Magee strongly encourages those students who are not part of the EU campus emergency alert system to sign up. This text message and e-mail based program warns students of potentially dangerous weather and related class cancellations.

Students can sign up on Eastern’s website through University-Wide Services.

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