Readiness a Requisite to Hurricane Threat
Published: Monday, October 29, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 12:10
Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina still haunt the nation’s memory, and it would be irresponsible to take the threat of another large storm lightly.
As the torrential rains and violent winds of Hurricane Sandy slam the East Coast, it’s important to remember that the risk of underpreparation is much graver than that of being too prepared.
The national media have been giving Sandy a huge amount of attention. Some criticize news outlets for playing off hype and exploiting people’s fears to boost ratings. The constant stream of news updates, however, is necessary to make viewers aware of the consequences of the storm and compel them to stay safe and informed. Letting people spend too much time in front of the television and too much money stocking up on groceries is an acceptable price to pay when the alternative is vulnerability to a preventable disaster.
In keeping with this perspective, we feel the university has taken the necessary, proactive steps to brace itself for Hurricane Sandy. Although cancelling classes is a big decision, there was nothing to be gained from holding out and putting members of the Georgetown community at risk.
The university’s preparations have been helpful and timely. The HOYAlert system notified students about class cancelations on Monday and Tuesday through text messages, email and phone calls, proving itself to be an effective tool for mass communication with the student body.
The administration did more than simply cancel classes. As early as last Friday, the university sent out emails with information on ways to prepare for the hurricane. The backup generator stationed by the Southwest Quad on Monday morning is a testament to the university’s level of preparedness.
Georgetown also took steps to ensure access to food during the storm, a major concern for students. Students were notified that there would be expanded Grab ‘n’ Go options and were encouraged to go to O’Donovan Hall before 3 p.m. to pick up food before a “shelter in place” alert was issued. Unfortunately, around 1 p.m., the shelves at Grab ‘n’ Go were virtually bare.
The university has had to take rapid steps to prepare for the hurricane, and as of press time, it looks to have acted effectively. While the administration’s eagerness to capitalize on photo ops that showed a ready response — having a photographer accompany President John J. DeGioia to his appearance in O’Donovan Hall, for example — may have been unnecessary, it doesn’t seem to have detracted from the work that has been done to prepare.
Many remember the buildup for Hurricane Irene in August 2011 and the aftermath that didn’t live up to expectations. But we should not live out the story of the boy who cried wolf. When storms turn out to be less severe than anticipated, it doesn’t mean that our precautions were unwarranted or that we should become complacent when the next storm approaches.
In such cases, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.