With a new academic year well underway, college and university campuses are beaming with excitement and calendars are filled with numerous school activities, athletic events and research advancements.  While hopefully the school year is off to a busy but great start, it is important for Administrators and school officials to not get completely consumed by day-to-day demands that they postpone emergency planning and preparedness efforts.

With Hurricane Matthew churning in the Atlantic, it is timely to remind higher education professionals, that colleges and universities are not exempt from the catastrophic impacts of a major hurricane.  Coastal facilities are well aware of the dangers, but inland institutions should also take the time to prepare for these tropical storms and the cascading hazards that often accompany such threats.  Is your school prepared?

So much focus is put on the actual path of tropical storms in regards to landfall and projected tracks.  However, with massive storms such as Matthew, the footprint is much wider and could potentially have an impact on your operations even if the eye of the storm remains hundreds of miles away. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Are sister or partner schools in the direct impact zone? 
  2. Does your inland facility serve as a support agency or evacuation zone for a coastal community or campus? 
  3. Are you capable of providing such support?  Have you planned, trained or exercised to actually receive additional students, faculty and staff? 
  4. How will you communicate with your campus community, in addition to your responsibilities of the individuals you may be temporarily housing? 
  5. How long can you sustain support operations?

These “devil in the details” can sometimes be overlooked when initially signing mutual aid agreements or when offering emergency support.  Take time now to prepare your own community and review any agreements or contracts that may be in place to support other organizations.  The time to prepare and ready your organization is now.