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As Brandeis braces for Hurricane Irene, Sunday move-in canceled

Published: August 30, 2011
Section: Featured, Summer News

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Brandeis canceled all move-in and orientation activities on Sunday as Governor Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency in Massachusetts and the Commonwealth prepares for Hurricane Irene.

Irene, currently a category one hurricane, struck the outer banks of North Carolina on Saturday afternoon and tracking models show it moving through New Jersey and New York Sunday morning with winds more than 70 m.p.h. before it strikes Connecticut and Western Massachusetts on Sunday. The state of emergency is for Saturday evening through Sunday.

The National Weather Service in Taunton issued a Tropical Storm Warning for Central and Southeast Middlesex County, warning of hurricane-force wind gusts and the potential for falling trees and power outages.

University officials said that only “essential campus services” will operate on Sunday and asked students to provide their cell phone numbers on SAGE in order to receive emergency notifications throughout the storm.

Sherman dining hall will serve meals to resident students throughout the day and officials said that Brandeis has emergency supplies, including back-up generators, flashlights, bottled water and food if necessary.

Orientation leaders, first-year international students, some fall athletes and some returning students are already living on campus.

On Thursday, university officials announced that first-year students could move into Massell and North residence halls on Saturday with limited staff assistance, and on Friday afternoon, the official move-in day was moved from Sunday to Monday.

“If you have not started your travels and you feel you can be at Brandeis by 4 p.m. on Saturday, you are welcome to check in as well—though I recommend that if you live in a state that is under emergency orders, you stay where you are,” Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer wrote in an e-mail for first-year and transfer students on Friday afternoon.

Orientation activities scheduled for Sunday will be moved to Monday and other days or canceled and the campus will open at 9 a.m. on Monday for move in, Sawyer wrote.

“The emphasis, of course, will be on safety. We will have emergency procedures in place for Sunday if the weather conditions warrant,” Sawyer wrote. “Those procedures and instructions will be made available by Orientation, Community Living, Public Safety and Communications staff.”

As many parents called throughout the week nervous about both the weather and the interruption to scheduled orientation activities, student life and communications officials assured them that safety was more important and the orientation schedule could be adapted.

“You will miss nothing that puts you at a disadvantage regarding academics, social life, etc.,” Sawyer wrote. “It is far better that you and your family get here safely whenever you can.”

Because of the postponement, only essential personnel and staff assisting with orientation and move-in should come to campus on Monday in order to avoid over-crowding, Andrew Gully, senior vice president for communications, wrote in an e-mail to faculty and staff Friday afternoon.

“Employees of Facilities Services, Public Safety, laboratories where it is crucial to maintain research activities, and any other offices providing essential services should follow the specific procedures of their departments,” Gully wrote.

Please check back soon for updates on this developing story.