Tropical Storm Irma cancels classes, University responds

September 16, 2017

(Source: WPDE) 

 

With what once was Hurricane Irma threatening our coastline, CCU enacted their contingency plans for the campus and residential students on Thursday, Sept. 7. 

 

At the beginning of the academic year, each resident at Coastal Carolina University was required to complete a Personal Evacuation form on MyCoastalHome.  

 

The form consisted of questions like “In case of an evacuation, do you plan to travel with University Housing?” and “Where would you travel to?”  

 

No one anticipated that the information would be utilized before the end of the first month of school. 

 

The first step in CCU’s Personal Evacuation Plan was to notify students. The first email from the Office of University Communication regarding the cancellation of classes, events and activities was sent Thursday at 1:28 p.m. There were to be no University sanctioned activities starting from Thursday at 8 p.m. until further notice.  

 

The next crucial step was to take care of residential students. Students living in University Housing were told that the residence halls would close on Friday at 9 a.m. and were given less than a day to make arrangements to evacuate. 

 

Even though students were placed under a time constraint, their safety was President David DeCenzo’s main priority.  

 

“Safety is going to be our first and foremost thought," said DeCenzo. "If the Governor wards an evacuation, then we will do what we need to do to close down campus.” 

 

The Office of University Communication sent another email to nonresidential students informing them of Governor Henry McMaster's intent to call for an evacuation of South Carolina’s coast no later than Saturday morning at 10 a.m.  

 

He later announced that schools and state government agencies would be closed Monday and Tuesday, including Coastal Carolina University. 

 

DeCenzo spoke on coordinating with professors in order to make up the missed time.  

 

“Everybody is supposed to be putting in place something that could be done online so that you can try to maintain class time,” said DeCenzo. 

 

A list of operation hours was sent; including the CCU shuttle service, dining halls, Kimbel Library and HTC. The shuttles transported students to the airport and to the Amtrak train station Thursday and Friday to help students enact their evacuation plan. 

 

University Housing had mandatory meetings with residents Thursday night to address closing procedures and to answer any lingering questions that students may have had. The meeting was also used to determine the amount that would be traveling with the University to a safer location.  

 

Two hours before residential students were required to leave Housing, the Office of University Communication sent a follow-up email informing students that campus would not be closing.  

 

This change came with Irma's track shifting further west which decreased the “likelihood of our campus being impacted with hurricane-force winds,” according to the email.  

 

Some students continued with their personal evacuation plan, regardless of University Housing remaining open and the delay of evacuating remaining residents.  

 

Since CCU was no longer in the 5-day error cone, students who remained in University Housing were lucky enough to have a reliable source of Internet in order to complete their online makeup assignments.  

 

An updated list of hours of the dining halls and other campus facilities was also released for residential students. 

 

South Carolina did not see much damage from Tropical Storm Irma. 

 

“The best-case scenario is if it doesn’t hit," said DeCenzo. "But, given that it could happen or given in the event that it does, the best-case scenario is where you don’t have any loss of life.”  

Tree falls down near Surfside Beach library. (WPDE)

 

The "best-case scenario" did occur and classes were able to resume on Wednesday.  

 

The Coastal community is still intact due to the quick action of the University, faculty and staff, and the willingness of students to comply at a moment’s notice.  

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