Storm Watch: University plans shelter areas, extra staffing

The University has designated several safe zones on campus as Hurricane Sandy barrels up the East Coast, a move that GW’s top security official called largely precautionary.

In case of an emergency, students can head to the Smith Center and other large facilities like the Marvin Center and School of Media and Public Affairs building, said Darrell Darnell, the senior associate vice president for the Office of Safety and Security. But he said it is unlikely that the shelters, which are part of GW’s emergency management plan, will be needed.

“We have plans in place, we will be able to execute them. Right now I don’t see any need for shelter,” Darnell said Saturday night. “If students follow instructions, stay indoors, don’t go outside, stay away from windows, everyone will be safe.”

The University has been “actively monitoring” the storm and conferring with top city and federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Weather Center and other D.C. agencies.

Students will be given additional information – including any class cancellations – Sunday, a day before the brunt of the hurricane is expected to strike the District. The University cautioned students to stock up on emergency supplies Friday in a campus advisory.

Darnell said “essential personnel” from the University’s operations team, including police and facilities workers, would remain on call and could be housed on campus or in hotels depending on the storm’s severity.

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