October 28, 2012

Cornell Plans to Remain Open While Threat of Storm Closes Several Area Schools

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Updated at about 12 a.m. with new information from Cornell Dining, freshmen residents and students living in Collegetown

While several area schools closed down as Hurricane Sandy approached, Cornell remained open Monday evening — leaving it the only Ivy to keep operating.

Throughout Monday, Tompkins Cortland Community College, schools in the Ithaca City School District and Syracuse University announced that they would close due to the storm. Additionally, Ithaca College canceled all classes and activities after 5 p.m.

As of 6 p.m., however, a University official said she did not think Cornell would shut down on Tuesday.

“We’re still monitoring the situation and seeing if it warrants closure … but as of now, it appears as if it won’t be necessary,” said Claudia Wheatley, director of press relations for the University.

Wheatley acknowledged that because it was relatively early in the evening, “a lot could happen” before Tuesday morning. The University’s weather experts will continue to monitor the storm’s condition throughout the night, she added.

Although Cornell plans on staying open throughout the week, Wheatley said the University is “keenly aware” that many of its employees commute to campus from “all over central New York and even Pennsylvania.” Accordingly, should the University decide to close, it will announce its decision as early as possible — “possibly even [at] dawn,” Wheatley said.

In a statement published Monday evening, the University said that it has made contingency plans in case Hurricane Sandy “changes course and brings extremely heavy rain, high winds and/or power outages to Ithaca.” The University has also made accommodations for staff who must drive to work, announcing that all staff who normally transit or carpool to work can park in B Lot free-of-charge on Tuesday.

Cornell Dining has also taken precautions to ensure Cornell has enough food to last four days without deliveries, according to Karen Brown, director of marketing and communications for Campus Life.

“If we had to feed everyone on campus for a number of days, we could, even if we don’t have power,” she said. “Any person who regularly eats on campus we can feed; that’s staff, that’s faculty, anyone who regularly eats on campus.”

Cornell Dining did not need to make special plans for Hurricane Sandy because emergency plans have been in place for years, Brown said.

“Cornell Dining is always prepared,” she said. “We store what we can to feed for four days.”

However, the storm will result in some dining services being disrupted. After Tioga County issued a state of emergency on Monday, Cornell Dining decided to close eight dining halls on Tuesday, including Risley Dining, Cascadeli and several other a la carte locations.

“A lot of our employees live in Tioga County, so if they can’t get here, we can’t open at full strength,” Brown said.

Additionally, because of the adverse weather, a regularly scheduled delivery for food that would have arrived Tuesday morning will not arrive until Wednesday, according to Brown.

On North Campus, freshmen expressed concern about how a power outage might affect their daily routine, according to Hannah McGough ’15, a resident advisor in Townhouse E8 and designer for The Sun.

“[One] common concern is eating. As townhouse residents, [my residents] are more accustomed to cooking their own meals because they have kitchens. They’re particularly curious about special dining hall hours and accommodations,” she said.

Townhouse residents also received an email from their Residential Hall Director telling students how to prepare for the storm, according to McGough. The email warned residents to close all windows and doors.

“If we get a lot of rain (highly likely) –– please make sure to watch out for leaks,” the email read.

Meanwhile, students have been frequenting local stores to stock up on food and other supplies to for the storm. Peng Tian ’13 said she purchased a week’s worth of food for herself and her roommates.

“In order to prepare for the hurricane, I’m actually getting a lot of potatoes since I have meat at home,” she said. “Even if nothing happens, I can still use the food to cook for something else. I’m not trying to stock too much food.”

Christina Hanco ’15 stocked up on food in case the heavy rain prevents her from venturing outside.

“I just want to get some food because I don’t live close to any dining halls and I don’t want to go outside if it gets bad,” she said.

However, despite stocking up, Hanco and Tian were not overly concerned with the storm.

“I don’t think it will last that long,” Hanco said. “It seems like it’s moving pretty quickly.”

Tian hopes the hurricane will serve as a short break from school work.

“I’m not really worried about the hurricane. I, myself, have never seen a hurricane in my entire life, so I don’t know what it looks like,” she said. “Basically, I’m just planning to stay home, relax from school a little bit.”

Joe Niczky and Caroline Flax contributed reporting.

Original Author: Akane Otani