Fairfield University's response efforts following Hurricane Sandy
(November 2, 2012)
At Fairfield University, classes were cancelled Monday through Friday, Oct. 29-Nov. 2, however, administrative offices re-opened on Wednesday, Oct. 31. Plans were in place to resume classes and all campus operations on Monday, Nov. 5. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported at Fairfield University due to Hurricane Sandy, and the campus sustained only minor damage, mostly due to downed or damaged trees. On Saturday, Oct. 27, prior to Hurricane Sandy's hitting the Connecticut coast, classes were cancelled for Monday and Tuesday, Oct. 29th and 30th, and students were encouraged to return to their hometowns. Following that request, approximately 900 students remained on campus. Later in the week, the decision was made to cancel classes for the remainder of the week.
The biggest impact of the storm has been on the community of approximately 300 students who live along Fairfield beach in rental homes and apartments. The beach area, under a mandatory evacuation order by town officials, sustained heavy flooding and property damage from the storm and it remains unknown when the beach area residences will be available. While close to half of those students will be absorbed into residential facilities on campus, the University is currently asking faculty, staff, and area alumni to consider housing impacted students. University President Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., has been the first to offer assistance and will be housing several students in his residence.
Reports indicate that 98% of the Town of Fairfield lost power due to the storm, but because the University utilizes its own power facility, the EPA award-winning Combined Heat and Power Plant (CHP), the University did not lose power, except for a brief five-hour period on Monday night when the storm was at its peak. While taking the strain off the region's power grid, the CHP permits the institution to produce its own electricity, and with the byproduct, heat and cool the majority of campus buildings. Two buildings on campus not connected to the CHP, the student-occupied Townhouses and Early Learning Center, remained without power, and the students residing in the townhouses were evacuated Monday and accommodated on campus. The Town of Fairfield announced on Friday that it anticipated that 97% of residences should have power by Monday, November 5.
The University opened the Leslie C. Quick, Jr. Recreation Complex to the campus community and members of the public who lost water and power, so that they may take showers. The complex is open from 7 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. The Barone Campus Center, which had been used as an emergency shelter for students, was offered as a place for Town of Fairfield emergency meetings due to the Town Hall neighborhood being impacted by the storm. Fairfield University is also working with officials of the Town of Fairfield to accommodate their requests for assistance. In addition, the University has opened its doors to assist the Sacred Heart University's men's and women's basketball teams who will be practicing on Fairfield's campus.
Fairfield University's DiMenna-Nyselius Library was open every day last week to both students and residents. Between 200-500 students and residents came to the library each day, charging their devices, using the computers, and keeping warm. This was particularly helpful during the several days when the public library was closed.
Although a number of events have been cancelled or postponed, the Fairfield men's basketball team will play against the University of Bridgeport in an exhibition game at the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, CT, on Friday, Nov. 2. And Fairfield University's Quick Center for the Arts is presenting a weekend performance - as scheduled - by the internationally renowned National Circus of the People's Republic of China, reinforcing the University's efforts to get back to normal. The University's student activities are also moving forward in the storm's aftermath. Several weekend performances of Theatre Fairfield's student production of "An Enemy of the People" are taking place as scheduled at the Quick Center.
In a letter to the University community, Father von Arx thanked everyone for their hard work, and "for all that you are doing to assist one another in these trying circumstances. You and your families are in my prayers as well, and I appreciate all that you are doing to overcome the individual challenges that you face as we work together as a University community to resume normal operations, and to keep one another safe."
Update: November 12, 2012
In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, a Fairfield Stags Respond online resource center has been developed by the Fairfield Stags Respond Committee, made up of Fairfield University students, faculty and staff. The site lists a variety of information and contact details currently available to all those affected by the storm as well as information on volunteering, making a donation, and assisting impacted students. The site includes a dedicated Facebook page and e-mail address and will be continually updated as additional relief efforts become available.
University officials will continue to monitor the situation.
Posted on November 12, 2012