University of Delaware

Hurricane Sandy

A letter to the University community


5:43 p.m., Nov. 2, 2012--To the University of Delaware community:

We have much to be thankful for this week at the University of Delaware as we were spared the full force of Hurricane Sandy. Even as we breathe a sigh of relief and return to our normal activities, we are mindful of the many, many people in this region—some of our students among them—who were not so lucky. Our thoughts and prayers go out to them as they rebuild their communities.

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The potential impact of Sandy was a major concern for UD, with its thousands of people and 430+ buildings on 2,000 acres throughout the state. Many members of our University community worked hard over the last several days to help us weather this “Storm of the Century.”

Preparation and practice paid off as our emergency response team, led by the Office of Campus and Public Safety, began assessing the situation late last week and taking steps to ensure the safety of our people and facilities. When the storm came, the campus suffered only minor damage: wind-driven water getting into buildings through roofs, walls and foundations; very minimal power loss, with a couple of residential properties without power for only a few hours, thanks to quick repair from the City of Newark; and only three trees knocked down and destroyed, along with a lot of leaves and branches to clean up. The Georgetown research facilities were fortunate to sustain only minor leaks and flooding. The hardest hit area was the Lewes campus, which had flooding on its grounds but minimal damage to buildings.

Throughout this time, the University’s greatest asset continued to be its people—staff members from a variety of units working as a team. A command center brought together representatives from across UD so that any issues could be responded to immediately. Staffed around the clock, the center included Housing, Public Safety, Residence Life, Environmental Health and Safety, Facilities and Auxiliary Services, Emergency Management, and Communications and Marketing.

The dedication of UD’s employees and students was evident everywhere: Dining Services staff, faced with reduced numbers and limited deliveries, kept students fed, and supported employees who worked during the crisis; Residence Life staff and resident assistants made sure students who remained on campus had up-to-date information and supplies; staff in Student Health Services kept Laurel Hall open to respond to student health needs; Human Resources staff worked over the weekend to ensure that payroll was processed ahead of time; UD Police officers were on patrol and responding to issues as they arose; the UD Emergency Care Unit was at the ready; staff in Environmental Health and Safety aided in the safe shutdown of UD laboratories and monitored fire safety issues; staff at the UD Library and the Carpenter Sports Building reported to work on Tuesday so that these resources could be available to students; Facilities staff continue to clean up debris left in Sandy’s wake and repair damage to buildings; faculty are working with students to make up lost class time.

Our UD Alert system served as an excellent tool for keeping students, parents and employees informed about the storm’s implications for UD, and the University’s homepage was the repository for the most current information and lists of events and activities that were canceled or rescheduled. Through the University’s accounts on Facebook and Twitter, staff answered questions and addressed concerns, and faculty and staff across the campus fielded phone calls and emails.  

In short, a stellar job all around. 

On behalf of the students, families and employees who benefited from these efforts, I thank everyone for their dedication and service to the people of UD.


Patrick T. Harker


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