Hurricane Joaquin Preparedness

Posted: October 2, 2015 at 9:28 am

Although latest projections predict that Hurricane Joaquin will not make direct landfall in the DC/Metro region, Mason is still preparing for a weekend of heavy rain and high winds. So, what has the university – and the Environmental Health & Safety in particular — done in preparation of the upcoming severe weather to reduce the risk of injury or property damage?

First, EHS released a message to the university community this morning with resources that have been developed to help individuals prepare for severe weather or regional emergencies at home and on campus. You can read the university’s official message about hurricane preparation by clicking here.

Behind the scenes, staff at the university who are knowledgeable in severe weather preparedness (including employees from EHS’s Emergency Management team) are carefully monitoring the weather to track its progress and ensure that facilities are prepared for severe weather, dining facilities are stocked, and emergency generators are fueled. Personnel have also been implementing flood mitigation strategies to prevent flooding on campuses.

As you may know, the Governor of Virginia recently declared a state of emergency in preparation for the potentially severe weather we’ll face over the coming days. The university has been working with regional emergency management departments and the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to ensure that our preparedness efforts are in line with regional efforts.

EHS-Emergency Management employees also joined a teleconference with Anne Holton, the Virginia Secretary of Education, geared towards ensuring public education institutions were properly prepared and understood how to communicate resource needs due to the expectation of severe weather.

EHS and members of the university’s Emergency Operations Group (EOG) will also be taking a “boots on the ground” approach to prepare for and respond to the storm. Members of the EOG will be on campus over the weekend monitoring the storm’s impact on the Mason community and making calls as needed regarding operating status and deploying resources as needed to support residents and others who may be on campus during the storm.

The above summarizes all of the efforts that the university has underway towards preparing for hurricane Joaquin, but keep in mind that there are many ways you can help to prepare for the potential impact of this storm. Here’s what EHS would recommend:

  • Monitor weather and news channels (television and radio) for up-to-date information;
  • Consider keeping nonperishable food, water, a flashlight, and medications on hand in the event of a power outage or regional flooding that prevents travel;
  • Allow additional travel time to and from campus during inclement weather and plan activities accordingly; and
  • Have a contact plan with family and friends in advance for communication and follow-up should this storm materialize into a regional emergency.

Based on current projections, the university anticipates operating on a regular schedule on Monday, October 5th. However, the university will provide updates on Mason’s operating status via Mason Alert as the situation warrants. Please visit www.gmu.edu, call 703-993-1000, and read Mason Alerts for the latest information about the university’s operating schedule. Due to potential severe weather, events scheduled over the weekend may be cancelled or postponed at the discretion of the event coordinator. Please check the event website or contact the event coordinator to confirm an event.

Questions? Contact EHS!

Write to Environmental Health & Safety Office at safety@gmu.edu