University prepares for possible hurricane

Image by Camila Fernandez

Camila Fernandez/News Director

The University is preparing for a possible hurricane Monday as tropical storm Erika makes its way through the Caribbean. It is expected to remain a tropical storm throughout the weekend with the Biscayne Bay Campus at a greater threat than the main campus, according to the Miami-Dade County evacuation zone map

A decision will be made on Friday if weekend classes are to remain open during storm watch and on Saturday in regards to Monday classes. Amy Aiken, director at the department of emergency management, said students are informed about evacuation before a storm hits. She said the County only evacuates for inland flooding, not wind. If a storm surge comes through, that is what puts people into harm. It is easier to control wind conditions than flood water, said Aiken. She said that evacuation means shutting down University operations.

“It’s not like we’re going to be in a middle of a class and all of a sudden there’s going to be, ‘What? We have to evacuate?’” she said. Unlike the Modesto Maidique Campus, the north campus is at an evacuation zone and at a closer proximity to water. Aiken said that faculty and students would be evacuated and that they do not have on-campus residential students to be concerned about there.

She said students would be encouraged to go home and stay away from campus so that there are less people at risk on campus. Residential students at the Modesto Campus who stay would follow housing and residential life procedures.

Last week, Mark Rosenberg, the president of the University; executive staff and key department heads did an annual tabletop exercise at the emergency operations center in Parking Garage Five.

The center is a central command and control facility where the faculty and staff manage emergency situations for different departments like finance, operations, command and logistics.

“We literally worked through a hurricane scenario,” said Aiken.

Alexander Casas, chief of the University’s police department, said they are collecting 48-hour supplies like water and flames.

Operational plans to address departmental readiness, essential personnel for FIU operations, securing housing residents are being finalized, said Casas. FIUPD also participates in Miami-Dade County emergency management and has officers there to maintain up-to-date information and to obtain resources for the University.

They are also finalizing arrangements for secured parking for departmental personnel and specialized equipment they work with during a storm.

“Basically, our preparation consists of getting ready to provide service immediately before, during and after the storm,” Casas said. “Hopefully the storm will continue to track east but we are preparing as if it were not,” he said.

FIU is an all-hazards university, said Aiken. They prepare for any type of emergency, besides hurricane disasters.

In a recent University-wide e-mail sent by external relations, it says students should be aware of FIU Alerts sent by emergency management through FIU e-mail accounts, University home page and social media.

“We look at any type of emergency that can happen to our students, faculty and staff,” Aiken said. “Our number one priority of the President, of everybody here, is safety.”

About the Author

Camila Fernandez
A FIU School of Journalism and Mass Communications Student - Began working with Student Media in 2013.

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