GW officials announced Monday evening that the University will be closed Tuesday because of severe weather conditions.
Road conditions in the District, Maryland and Virginia prompted the University to decide to close at about 6:20 p.m., Robert Chernak, senior vice president for Student and Academic Support Services, said.
Chernak also said the University took into account that many students are stranded out of town for the long weekend and that D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams has asked that people avoid traveling into the city until snow from the weekend’s blizzard is cleared.
Chernak said the University expects J Street venues to be open Tuesday, though it is possible one or two may be closed if not enough employees can get to work. Aramark management planned to spend Monday night at GW so they could be ready to open for students in the morning.
American, Catholic and Georgetown universities and the University of Maryland will also be closed Tuesday.
Snow started falling in D.C. at 2 a.m. Sunday and continued to envelop the city at a rate of an inch an hour until midday Monday, according to The Washington Post. District officials declared a state of emergency Sunday, which allowed the city to receive federal financial assistance for snow removal.
More than 18 inches accumulated, causing snow-bound students to wait out D.C.’s largest storm since 1996 in their residence hall rooms, apartments or other locations along the East Coast.
“I’m happy for the change. I like having to worry about snow rather than duct tape,” said junior Josh Greenbaum, referring to the recent terror alert.
The GW Hospital was looking for people with four-wheel drive vehicles to volunteer their services for the early morning and evening shifts Monday. About 20 deaths from Illinois to Pennsylvania were reported as a result of the storm.
For the first time in seven years, Washington closed its memorials, monuments and the Smithsonian institutions because of snow. Federal offices and most area schools are also closed Tuesday.
Reagan International Airport is set to reopen at 7 a.m. Tuesday, while Dulles Airport had two runways open Monday, though most flights were canceled, The Post reported.
Some students who were away for the long weekend got an extra day of vacation because of airport delays.
Freshman Dave Rottblatt, who spent the weekend at Syracuse University, said he could not get back to campus Monday, though Syracuse’s airport was open. Rottblatt said he had been trying to contact U.S. Airways since 10 a.m. Sunday but hadn’t been able to get through to an agent.
With most of GW’s dining facilities closed Sunday and Monday and several area restaurants shut down, students said they either scrounged around for food in their residence hall rooms or ventured out to 7-Eleven and Safeway to stock up.
“I haven’t eaten in days,” said freshman Adam Barsky while waiting in line at Provisions Monday afternoon. “I’ve been living off candy. Everyone’s hungry and everyone’s cranky.”
Domino’s Pizza rented a fleet of four-wheel drive vehicles from Dulles Airport in order to meet demand, said Regional Manager Chris Reisch. All eight Domino’s locations in the Metropolitan area remained open for business throughout the storm.
“It’s a really good time to build loyalty amongst the customers,” said Reisch, noting that almost all of his competitors were closed.
While some drivers had difficulties making deliveries on narrow roads, most were more than willing to work.
“We’re not complaining. We love it,” Reisch said. “We’re doing five times our normal business.”
Venues including the Home Zone, Montague’s Deli and Starbucks had limited hours Sunday and Monday because employees had trouble getting to work.
“It’s been a lot more work but not a lot more business,” said Jeremy Smith, the Starbucks location manager. “We had no problem (regarding) running out (of food or coffee).”
While Lindy’s Red Lion ran out of food early Sunday afternoon and TGI Friday’s and several other off-campus venues were closed, a few hundred students flocked to Bertucci’s Brick Oven Pizzeria in 2000 Penn for lunch.
“It’s crazy. There’s usually a wait time from (noon) to 2 o’clock, but the wait’s not stopping,” Bertucci’s manager said Monday at about 3 p.m.
The snow failed to keep some GW students from leaving their rooms. Many said they “braved the storm,” playing football on the National Mall or spending the day sliding down the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
-Mosheh Oinounou and Andrew Snow contributed to this report.
This article appeared in the February 18, 2003 issue of the Hatchet.