By Zac Vierra – Co-Editor-in-Chief
Mother Nature can be one of the most unpredictable forces on Earth. It is impossible to know the strength of a natural disaster until sometimes it is too late. Luckily, Lasell has an emergency management and action plan ready in preparation for such an event. This preparation helped keep campus safe during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
According to Ed Conlin, Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police, the emergency plan has been in place for a number of years, “so the preparations are there it’s just reacting to whatever happens.”
To prepare for a storm such as Sandy, the college has a crisis management team consisting of President Michael Alexander, Conlin, Marc Fournier the Interim Director of Plant Operations and Sustainability, Scott Lamphere the Director of Residential Life, David J. Hennessey the Dean of Student Affairs, and Mairead VanHeest the General Manager of Lasell College Dining Services.
The team met because of Sandy and brainstormed how to handle different situations the storm may bring, along with assessing the situation after the storm had hit.
“We would sit down, which we did during this storm, go over where we stand, what we have, what we need to do. Do we need to cancel classes? Do we need to evacuate some of the residence halls? Do we need auxiliary power brought in? So you look at everything that is going on for the particular event,” said Conlin.
During this particular storm the decision was made to cancel classes on October 29, 30, and 31 due to the loss of power across campus. Fortunately, power was not completely lost which made it easier to keep students safe.
“When the power went out here it didn’t really go out,” said Conlin. “NStar lost half of the power to the area so the majority of buildings here kept a type of lighting and the heat so it was still warm so we didn’t have to worry about that.”
To keep students aware of what was happening in the aftermath of the storm, alerts were sent out via emergency text messages along with updates on lasellemergency.org. Some of these messages included the cancellation of classes, food options, shuttle schedules, and updates on power across campus.
The emergency text system has been in place for four to five years and it has never been used that often according to Conlin. But this was a special case.
“The reason that we used [the texts] to that extent was that students had no power to their computers. Usually we can update people with email but email wasn’t going to work because too many people weren’t getting emails but everybody, until their phone dies, could use their phones,” said Conlin.
Due to the preparation beforehand, Conlin felt the college did an excellent job of handling the hurricane.
“It was very successful,” he said. “Our disaster plan calls for a debriefing afterwards and we had a debriefing and very few things needed to be improved upon. Everything seemed to work very well.”