BOONE, N.C. — As most of the Eastern Seaboard tracks Hurricane Florence, preparations are underway at Appalachian State University.
As part of the preparation, Appalachian canceled classes and academic obligations from 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12, through 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16.
In a message to campus, Chancellor Sheri Everts acknowledged it was still unclear what impact the storm may have on Appalachian’s campus and the surrounding area, and said the impetus for cancellation is to support the needs of Appalachian students and their families.
“Many of our students are from areas that are likely to experience more significant impact from the storm than we are likely to feel in Boone,” Everts said in her message to campus.
Everts said Emergency Management, Physical Plant, Food Services, Housing, Parking and Traffic, and many other campus units are preparing for the potential impacts of severe winds and rain.
Director of Environmental Health, Safety and Emergency Management Jason Marshburn emphasized that plans are in place for the Appalachian Community’s safety and the dissemination of information as the area anticipates the potential impacts of Florence, which could include flooding and damaging winds as far northwest as the Boone area.
“It is not often we have to prepare for a hurricane in the mountains, but we are doing so on our campus,” Marshburn said.
The Environmental Health, Safety and Emergency Management team is monitoring the storm track and is in regular communication with the National Weather Service regarding pending forecast developments, Marshburn said.
“Although models are not conclusive and we do not yet have a confident forecast about weather in the Boone area, we still encourage preparation,” he said.
Everts also expressed willingness for the campus to be of service to others, if needed. “As we work with the UNC System and response agencies across the region to determine the best course of action for our university community, we are in close contact with our UNC System partners, and should our location be determined as a safe option, we have offered to provide shelter as needed for evacuees. We are also preparing to provide shelter as needed for our off-campus students,” she said.
Appalachian’s first home football game of the season will not be played this weekend in Boone due to increasing concerns associated with Hurricane Florence, athletics officials announced Wednesday afternoon. Officials from both schools are exploring options to reschedule the game. Check AppStateSports.com for the most up-to-date information on the rescheduling of other home athletics events, which include women's soccer, men's soccer, alumni reunions and the 2018 App State Athletics Hall of Fame celebration.
Many campus events are scheduled to take place over the coming days. Marshburn encourages the campus and community to check directly with event presenters to determine cancellations or postponements.
As weather models become clearer, Marshburn said the administration will alert the campus and community at the earliest possible time.
How the university prepares
In accordance with established emergency readiness plans, the university has been taking preparedness steps since last week and continues to prepare as the storm develops. Some actions will be visible on campus, and include:
- Clearing drainage areas to encourage drainage.
- Performing pre-storm checks on residence halls and other campus buildings.
- Placing sandbags in areas known to accumulate water.
- Stocking up on food and water supplies.
- Coordinating with local and state partners should emergency response plans need to be implemented.
Additionally, as with any severe weather event, a number of university employees responsible for critical services, including Food Services, building safety and maintenance, and emergency response teams, will be on campus and responding in the event of any critical or crisis situation.
University Emergency Management asks that students, faculty and staff:
- Stay alert for messages that will be sent via App State email.
- Register for text alerts at http://appstatealert.com.
- Stay calm, and prepare a readiness kit.
- Unless absolutely necessary, do not drive in severe weather. Wading, driving through or entering the water during times of heavy rain can be extremely dangerous, Marshburn cautioned. Curb the impulse to drive or pursue outdoor activities during extreme weather.
- Monitor https://www.appalcart.com for AppalCART schedules, delays or cancellations.
Watch vs. warning
The National Weather Service is using the terms “Tropical Storm Watch” or “Tropical Storm Warning” rather than “high wind warnings” or “wind advisories” to describe wind speeds. As in the past, these announcements will include wind speed information.
About Appalachian State University
Appalachian State University, in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The transformational Appalachian experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and embrace diversity and difference. As one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls about 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.