Irene hits campus; delays move-in, classes

By James Crowell
August 30, 2011

Students on campus filled the hallways of residence halls Saturday night during Hurricane Irene.  A tornado warning in Radnor required students to get to the lowest ground possible and stay away from windows as high winds continued to cause worry.

While freshmen at Cabrini College were able to move into the residence halls without a hitch last week, many upperclassman had to rearrange plans and either move in early, or wait until Hurricane Irene passed.

Upperclassman move-in date was changed from Sunday, Aug. 28 to Tuesday, Aug. 30. Students were urged to stay safe at home but many students rushed to campus Saturday the 27 to beat the storm. Students moving in Tuesday were excused from classes interfering with move-in but were encouraged to attend the classes they were able to make.

“Initial decision to delay move-in of returning resident students was to minimize travel dangers, which were at that time unknown from this uniquely wide storm,” Gene Castellano, vice president for marketing & communications, said in an email. “There was also a concern for the safety of College employees who would have to come to campus to check in returning students.”

Precautions were taken by campus officials with the cancellation of the first day of classes and Sunday night mass. Residence life sent emails updating the students on precautions to take before and during the storm.

The residents living in the houses on campus were moved into buildings structurally stronger and on higher ground as the wind and rain built outside. They were able to return to their rooms Sunday afternoon.

“I was in my apartment when we got the text message,” Quiana Volney, senior business administration major and resident assistant said.  “ Michael Mullen, our Area Coordinator, send out a text that there was a tornado warning including Radnor.”

Since the other RA on the floor was not there at the time, Volney gathered her residents and told them to get into the hallway on the first floor of the apartment complex for safety.

“I told them that they could bring pillows and blankets because we did not know how long we would be in the hall,” Volney said. “Likely, it only lasted 20 minutes, but it could of been an hour or more before we could go back to our rooms.”

“With expected high winds and the massive tree coverage of the Cabrini campus, Residence Life and Dean of Students decided to relocate students from smaller ‘houses’ to more secure large residence halls,” Castellano said. “Students were especially cooperative on this, and the move proved wise as tornado warnings were issued Saturday night.”

Volney saw that much of the campus was spared the worse, but she did notice minor damage in her building and in her apartment due to Hurricane Irene.

“After the hurricane, as we did our usual rounds, we noticed some leakage in the ceilings and I found small cracks in my bedroom wall,” Volney said.

Power outages throughout the weekend were not cause for alarm as much of the campus only had “blips” with power. Houses surrounding the campus were without power until Monday. Campus officials had plans to move students into Founder’s Hall should power, running water and safety be an issue during the storm.

College officials, many without power in their own homes and coping with flooding, agreed to allow Sunday move-in on Monday as long as staff could travel safely and were not themselves in danger from the storm at home. Some faculty volunteered to teach on Monday but it was agreed students arriving on campus would need time to unpack and settle in.

Committed to keeping the Cabrini community informed as much and as often as possible, timely information was provided to students on-campus and off, to parents and to faculty and staff via handouts,  email, the Cabrini website and Residence Life Facebook page and via the Emergency Text Notification system.

“The RA staff really came together at the end of it all, to make sure everyone was calm and I think we all communicated well, which allowed everyone to stay safe during the worst of it,” Volney said.

In the seven days from Aug. 23 to Aug. 29, there were 551 new users added to the Emergency Text Notification system.


Students in East Residence Hall wait for tornado warning to pass after being evacuated to the basement.

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James Crowell

Senior com major at Cabrini College. Technical Director for LOQation. On-Air personality on WYBF-FM. Past News editor for The Loquitur, 2011-12. Passion for videography, tech news & quantum mechanics. Follow me @JamesCrowellJr

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