Facilities Addresses Storm Damage
Published: Friday, November 2, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 2, 2012 02:11
Having navigated the emergency procedures and campus closures necessitated by Hurricane Sandy, the university is now in the process of addressing the 308 maintenance requests caused by the storm.
The Category 1 hurricane ripped through the District Monday, prompting the university to close for two days and issue a “shelter-in-place” warning urging students not to go outside between 5:30 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The decisions to cancel classes and issue the warning were made by a team comprising members of the Office of the Provost, the Department of Public Safety and other administrative offices.
“The decision is driven primarily by safety,” university spokeswoman Stacy Kerr said. “We used the Emergency Management Team’s guidance and many reports from a number of weather services. We also take into account many factors, such as transportation.”
The decisions were relayed to the university community via HOYAlert messages and updates to a page on the university’s website detailing all operational status updates. According to Kerr, the site received more than 25,000 visits in 48 hours, and more than two-thirds of the traffic was from first-time visits.
Though Georgetown and the greater D.C. area emerged from the storm largely unscathed, hundreds of students have submitted requests to Georgetown’s Work Management Center to fix damage caused by the hurricane.
According to Kerr, drywall and ceiling problems account for 5 percent of reported damage, while the remaining 95 percent of requests relates to carpet drying and cleaning as a result of water intrusion.
“The biggest issues were damage to carpets, and what we saw was mostly water coming in from windows because of the extreme amount of rain … because of the wind,” she said.
As of Thursday evening, facilities had assessed 91 percent of requests and fulfilled 59 percent of them, according to Kerr.
“Some issues can be fixed on the spot, and some of them require additional maintenance. It could take several weeks for that many reports to be completed, but facilities is working extended hours, and additional staff … will be in the residence halls first thing in the morning until 11 p.m. in order to deal with as many of the issues as possible,” Kerr said.
The buildings with the highest number of reports filed were Village C West and Darnall Hall. Residents of these buildings expressed frustration with the progress of work on these requests.
“I have tile floors in a fourth-floor room [on the ground level near the patio], so the water from outside came in under the desk area through cracks in the tile,” VCW resident Chrissy Kalpin (SFS ’16) said. “Members of housekeeping have been by, and they vacuumed and sprayed some chemical on it, but that has basically been it. They’ve been by to take photos and assess the damage, but they haven’t exactly done anything.”
According to Darnall Hall resident Christina Wing (MSB ’16), all of the Darnall rooms facing the hospital suffered water damage.
“The worst rooms actually had levels of standing water,” Wing said. “The maintenance crews came as soon as possible and assisted in any way that they could, but they said that a lot of the issues were from the outside, so they couldn’t do too much work to actually fix the issue. They could only try to minimize the leaking and water intrusions.”
Despite the damage, students praised Georgetown University Facilities’ response and diligence in addressing the issue.
“Overall, I think the response from facilities, both before and during the storm, has been wonderful,” said Darnall resident Jordan Moeny (SFS ’15), who had water leak into her room through both her window and her air conditioning unit. “They’ve been very helpful, particularly considering the number of issues they’ve had to address.”
Though the storm put a strain on Georgetown’s maintenance and facilities systems, Kerr said that the university has been pleased with its overall management of the storm.
“We are pleased with the proactivity with which we were able to respond to the situation and communicate with the community,” she said.
Early Monday morning, the university set up a 24-hour emergency command center to monitor data about the hurricane and deal with damage. The center was staffed by members of the Department of Public Safety, the Office of Student Affairs, University Information Services, the Office of Risk Management, University Facilities, Auxiliary Services, the Office of Public Affairs and the Office of Residence Life.
“The operation center had representatives from each department available 24 hours a day in order to respond to any emerging emergencies and to prepare, anticipate and monitor the emergencies as they are happening,” Kerr said. “We have a very collective decision-making process that utilizes the most up-to-date information to make decisions about how to best serve the students and the university community.”
The full-time staff of the Department of Emergency and Management and Operational Continuity also helped with campus preparations before the storm.
In preparation for a possible power outage, the school set up emergency generators outside the Southwest Quad.
“We had emergency generators prepared so that if any of the dorms lost power, emergency measures like alarms, fire alarms, doors and exits would still be working,” Kerr said. “We were prepared to turn those on if needed.”
In addition, the university called on community members to volunteer during the storm.
Campus Community Emergency Response Team members, who are trained in basic emergency response, were kept on standby. This was the first time C-CERT members have been asked to prepare for an emergency.
“We received an email asking for our availability in case we needed to be activated,” C-CERT member David Lizza (COL ’15) said. “We’re just … extra [sets] of hands for the emergency personnel [who] are already here [who know] some of the procedures and the chain of command.”