Now that Hurricane Irene has passed, I am writing to update you on how the Marist campus was affected by the storm and how we responded. Welcoming the hurricane at the same time we were welcoming our students back to campus was not ideal, but I’m proud to say that the Marist community was up to the challenge.

Summary of damages on campus:

  •  We lost electricity for three hours throughout most of campus due to a problem with a Central Hudson substation.
  • There was substantial flooding at Upper Fulton townhouses caused by water flowing from property north of us. The stream was at times four feet high and powerful enough to move cars in the parking lot.
  • There was also substantial flooding in Gartland Commons caused by water from the Hudson River Psychiatric Center flowing down into our north entrance. This required us to evacuate Gartland for several hours. Students were relocated to the Student Center or to friends’ apartments, and Food Services provided complimentary meals to everyone from Gartland. Most of the displaced students were back in their rooms by 5:30 p.m., and the residents of Gartland G Block were able to return by 9:45 p.m.
  • The Hudson River overflowed its banks, sending two feet of water into our boathouses and submerging our fishing pier. We are still assessing the damage to our waterfront buildings.
  • Due to flooding, the embankment around the railroad bridge tunnel connecting our main campus and the waterfront collapsed. Until the structural safety of the tunnel has been determined by CSX, we are restricting access to our waterfront property from the main campus. Marist crew teams can access our boathouses via the Water Street entrance.
  • At Lower West Cedar, the laundry room was flooded, and substantial damage was caused by the run-off of water and debris from the adjacent doctors’ property.
  • The heavy rain caused between 50 and 60 leaks in several buildings across campus.
  • There was substantial damage to IT equipment, including flooding in Gartland and Lower West Cedar. We deployed our disaster recovery plan and were able to repair or replace all damaged equipment immediately after flooded areas were drained. IT staff worked through the night on Sunday to ensure that all systems are functional.
  • I’m pleased to note that our new Route 9 pedestrian walkway made it through the storm with flying colors. It was bone dry throughout.

Other notes:

  • The safety and security of our students were foremost in our minds, and this is what guided our decision-making process at all times.
  • Good communications were a crucial part of our storm response, and we kept students regularly updated through e-mail, the Marist webpage, Facebook, and Twitter. Social media in particular can spread rumors rapidly, and we were quick to counter any false information with the facts. More than 15,000 people read our website updates.
  • The entire senior administrative team was on campus during or immediately after the hurricane to plan for contingency. Special thanks to Student Affairs, especially Vice President for Student Affairs Deb DiCaprio, Associate Dean for Student Affairs Steve Sansola, Director of Student Activities Bob Lynch, Director of Housing & Residential Life Sarah English, and the Residential Life staff; Physical Plant, especially Director of Physical Plant Justin Butwell, who oversaw the damage assessment and repair, and the Grounds and Mechanical Services crews, who waded into the waters to unplug drains and help students; Security, especially Director of Safety & Security John Gildard and Assistant Directors Al Abdelrahman and Mike Woods; Executive Vice President Geoff Brackett; Food Services, which fed the largest number of students in recent memory; and Student Body President Andrew Paulsen ’12. Thanks also to Chief Public Affairs Officer Tim Massie and our IT staff for keeping the communications flowing. We are extremely grateful to everyone who went to extraordinary lengths to keep our students safe during this major storm.
  • All administrative offices are open today, and classes will resume tomorrow on a normal Tuesday schedule.

This was a major storm, and I am proud of the way the Marist community came together to deal with it. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions. I hope that you, your families, and your homes made it through the hurricane with little or no damage.