The snowstorm last week meant some staffers were stuck on campus, many sleeping on airbeds and cots in University buildings.
More than 250 employees worked on-site from the beginning of the weekend until Monday to serve students and help with the clearing and treating of roads. The staff at Pelham Commons on the Mount Vernon Campus were forced to stay overnight throughout the weekend and into Monday on airbeds provided by the University.
Angela Marie Jackson, a supervisor and worker at Pelham Commons, was notified on Friday that her usual 40- to 45-minute trek by Metro from Southeast D.C. to the Vern would become an overnight stay.
“They called and said, ‘Make sure you bring clothes to stay over.’ Our boss went out and bought blow-up beds,” Jackson said.
Jackson said many of her co-workers commute at least 45 minutes every day in normal conditions. During the storm, with the roads blocked from the snow, and a majority of the Metro lines closed or running slow, going back home was not feasible.
Workers also had to divert attention away from their personal and family lives during the storm. Jackson said she had to find a solution to helping her husband with his health issues.
“My husband is sick. He has cancer and he’s doing chemo, so I wasn’t able to be there, but I had one of my daughters stay there with him to help him out,” Jackson said.
University spokesperson Maralee Csellar said all staff were paid for their work during the duration of the storm, could shower in GW facilities and received free meals. Some workers on the Foggy Bottom Campus stayed in hotel rooms.
Csellar said that when emergency situations occur, the employees designated as essential operations employees are required to work for the duration.
Jerrell Stringfellow, a worker at J Street, was one of the Foggy Bottom employees who was housed in a hotel during the storm.
“We all had nice rooms, nice suites, full bath, kitchens, everything. So, for the time we were here, we were good – no unsanitary conditions or anything crazy,” Stringfellow said.
Felicia Afful Proctor, a lead supervisor at Pelham Commons, recalled driving through 22 inches of snow to come to work during a storm six years ago. Proctor said her managers did not provide sleeping arrangements during that storm, and that many employees had to find a solution themselves. That 2010 storm brought 26 inches of snow and two days of canceled classes.
“They don’t force you to come, but most of the time, we think about the students, so we just want to do it for the students,” Proctor said. “We don’t do it for the managers. We do it for the students.”