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Minimal campus damage from Sandy

Published: November 2, 2012
Section: News, Top Stories


Temporary power outages on Monday evening and two fallen trees marked the extent of damage to the Brandeis campus from Hurricane Sandy this week. The storm struck the East Coast and killed more than 80 people nationwide, including 38 in New York City, with high winds, massive flooding and widespread power outages.

While the campus suffered minimal damage, administrators remained aware of the high population of students from the New York and New Jersey area.

“As we continue to pick up the pieces, we are well aware that Sandy did not just affect Waltham and surrounding communities,” Dean of Student Life Rick Sawyer and associate deans Maggie Balch and Jamele Adams wrote in an email Thursday. “Many of your families and friends may have, or are continuing to, struggle with the aftermath of such a natural disaster. It is heart wrenching to see the pictures and hear the stories.”

President Fred Lawrence canceled classes on Monday and the university closed but reopened on Tuesday with a full class schedule. On Sunday afternoon, when Governor Deval Patrick had already declared a state of emergency, Lawrence first wrote an email that anticipated the university would remain open. Lawrence changed his decision on Sunday evening after Patrick requested that schools, colleges and businesses in the state close to help with storm preparations.

“Late this afternoon Gov. Deval Patrick asked that all Massachusetts colleges and universities cancel activities on Monday,” Lawrence wrote Sunday evening. “Accordingly, we are canceling classes and other scheduled events on campus.”

The dining halls operated on a regular weekday schedule Monday with free pizza served from 9 p.m. until 2 a.m. and the Goldfarb library closed early at 8 p.m. Einstein’s also closed earlier than expected.

Senior Vice President for Administration Mark Collins returned to campus Monday evening and worked overnight as several buildings lost power. On Monday, the Gosman Athletic Center, Charles River apartments and Mods apartments had partial electricity, Collins said. A backup generator powered the Village and 60 Turner Street with the Epstein building losing full power.

“Tough night but not bad in terms of some of the other horror stories on the news,” Collins wrote in an email, explaining that NStar managed to replace power in all buildings by early Tuesday morning.

On Tuesday morning, even though buildings had power restored the Charles River Apartments and 60 Turner Street were still experiencing voltage issues.

“While they do have power in these locations there is some additional work that NStar needs to do in order to provide us consistently with the appropriate voltages for each of these locations,” Collins wrote.

A tree fell near the Berlin Chapel, but director of public safety Ed Callahan said there was no structural damage, according to BrandeisNOW. A large tree also fell near the crosswalk between the Rabb steps and Usdan.

In Waltham, 25 people were evacuated after the roof blew off the Glenmeadow Condominiums building on Lexington Street Monday evening.

Lawrence expressed gratitude for the community’s preparations and response to the storm but remained mindful that many families in New York and New Jersey suffered greatly.

“We are all grateful that there was no significant damage or personal injuries on campus,” Lawrence told BrandeisNOW. “At the same time, our hopes go out to people in New York, New Jersey and other states that bore the full impact of the storm, and we extend our sympathy and support to the members of our community who at present are unable to communicate with their relatives and friends in those places.”

Sawyer, Adams and Balch reinforced the message in their email on Thursday evening.

“Please know we all care about you and your loved ones. If you feel the need to chat, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone—your Community Advisor, Community Development Coordinator, the Chaplaincy, the Counseling Center or feel free to drop by our office on the second floor of the Shapiro Campus Center. Please let us know how we can help!” they wrote.