McDaniel administrators are working together to prepare the college in advance of the arrival of Hurricane Sandy, which is expected to bring heavy rain and winds to the Mid-Atlantic early next week.
Director of Physical Plant George Brenton said earlier today that all of the campus’ “emergency generators have been tested and are full of fuel” so that the college is prepared in the event of a power failure. While individual dorm rooms are not on generators, a series of battery-operated backup lights will be activated in hallways and stairwells if the power goes out.
Brenton also said Friday that the grounds staff was “going around and checking all of the storm water drains, the window well drains, and making sure that they [were] clear, and making sure that any excess leaves or debris that could be around the area” was cleaned up.
Director of Campus Safety Mike Webster said Friday that the Department of Campus Safety has and will participate in briefings on the storm from Carroll County, and has reviewed “evacuation plans” and “crisis response plans” ahead of the hurricane’s arrival. If the need arises, Webster says that his department has “off duty personnel on stand-by for call in if necessary.”
Food Services is also prepared in case of a power failure. General Manager of Food Services Rita Webster says that, in accordance with Sodexo’s disaster plans and emergency protocols, that McDaniel has preordered extra food to arrive on Monday. She says that, “if the electricity is not working, then we’re going to provide cold food which is meat, sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, salads, fruit, chips, everything that doesn’t require heat” in Englar Dining Hall, while other food service locations such as the pub would close because they would not have any power to cook with.
Meals would continue to be served in the Dining Hall in the event of an electricity failure, as the dining hall is equipped with backup lighting and generators to run the freezer and refrigerator through any interruption in power.
Food services assures students that there will be no shortage of food if power fails and transportation to the college becomes difficult, and Director of Residence Life Michael Robbins says that the dining hall is preparing for increased demand that may come from students without meal plans needing to use the dining hall if they do not have power in their kitchens.
As of early Saturday morning, the National Weather Service is forecasting that Westminster should begin to feel the storm’s effects early Sunday morning, with showers beginning after 2 a.m. The precipitation is forecasted to build throughout the day on Sunday, with heavy rain possible through Tuesday and rain and high winds continuing to Wednesday night.
As the storm gets closer, students have been receiving notifications from the President’s Office and the Department of Residence Life on the McDaniel’s preparedness for Sandy and the steps students can take to help ready themselves and the college for the storm.
Beyond these, Brenton says that the most important thing for students to do is to ensure that windows in dorms have been closed and that all damage is reported to either Resident Assistants in the dormitories or to the Department of Campus Safety.
“We have quite a few instances where we’ll get a call when we have a big storm like this of a leak on, say, a second floor of a four-story building and usually its caused from a third floor window being open. If they see hallway windows or common area windows open, closing those windows when it’s raining or if they know it’s going to rain would be a big help.”
He also advises students to take other common-sense measures such as closing and securing all outdoor trashcan lids prior to the storm’s arrival, as well as preparing themselves by having a flashlight in case the power to the dorms are lost.
Stay with the Free Press for coverage of Hurricane Sandy. We are watching local news sources and the weather bureau, as well as monitoring McDaniel Alerts for the latest details, and will pass on any information about how the storm will impact Westminster as it becomes available to us using our Twitter feed (@mcdfreepress) which can also be seen at the top of our home page.