UCF prepares for Tropical Storm Isaac
Published: Sunday, August 26, 2012
Updated: Sunday, August 26, 2012 12:08
In the wake of Hurricane Andrew’s 20th anniversary, Tropical Storm Isaac looms in the distance threatening to bring strong winds and heavy rain to the Orlando area on Monday. Forecast models predict Isaac will graze over Cuba before making its way toward the Florida Keys.
Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency as a hurricane watch ensued in South Florida on Saturday. And because many Floridians are aware that changes in weather patterns can happen at the drop of a hat, Central Florida is also under a warning, but for a tropical storm rather than a hurricane, reflecting that as the storm passes over land it should decrease in strength. According to the Weather Channel, a tropical storm warning means that Central Florida can expect wind gusts up to 73 mph throughout Monday.
In 2010, UCF was designated as a StormReady university which means the university is a leader in emergency preparedness. As the storm draws closer, UCF prepares to hunker down and get students ready for what is to come.
“Our emergency management team continues to stay in close contact with state and local emergency managers,” said Chad Binette, associate director of News & Information.
Campus departments were requested to secure outdoor banners and items before leaving campus on Friday in preparation for the strong wind gusts that are expected through Monday.
Binette encourages all students, staff and faculty members to be prepared by collecting enough food and water to last 72 hours. UCF officials will make a decision to cancel classes if the safety of the campus is in danger. Students, faculty and staff will receive an email and text message advising them of the decision but can also tune into local news stations or visit www.ucf.edu to find up-to-date information.
“UCF’s commitment to keeping the campus community safe and informed begins with the Office of Emergency Management’s presence at parent and student orientation sessions. The university also offers several UCF Alert emergency notification systems and provides severe weather training for resident assistants,” Binette said in a press release.
President John C. Hitt said in a statement that UCF will enact its emergency plan, which is coordinated by William Merck, vice president for administration and finance and chief financial officer, when it is necessary — as it was during Hurricane Charley, Frances and Jeanne in 2004.
If the campus is closed for a storm, UCF is required to open shelters for students who live on campus. Jeff Morgan, director of emergency management, will establish an Emergency Operations Center to coordinate mission-critical services such as security, utilities, dining service and shelter support, Hitt said.
In the case that campus residents are required to leave their dorms, resident assistants have been trained and will be available to advise students on where to go for safety. Shelters will be made available for all students who cannot travel back home in time to avoid the storm. UCF’s emergency management department requests that all students staying in a shelter bring their own flashlight and nonperishable food to last them at least three days.
Students who depend on public transportation should be aware that LYNX services will be cancelled when sustained winds reach 35 mph or if there is flooding in the area. According to a press release, the regular service stops will be cancelled 12 hours prior to the incoming storm. ACCESS LYNX services, which provide life-sustaining medical trips, will be the only exception to this rule.
Students with vehicles should try to park in a garage for extra shelter from the strong winds and should use their vehicle's emergency brake to help the car remain in place.
If the storm does not warrant a campus evacuation, students should still be prepared by making sure all windows are closed and objects have been removed from being directly in front of them. During the peak of the storm, students should close all bedroom and bathroom doors and remain in the hallways of their apartments. Once the storm has passed, be sure to alert housing authorities of any broken windows, power outages or excessive water damage within the residence.
For more information on how to prepare for the ensuing storm, visit www.emergency.ucf.edu where you can find links to UCF’s Hurricane Guide, how to put together an emergency supply kit and how to develop a storm-related pet plan.