August 27th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Lorimer talks Irene (UPDATED)

UPDATED: 5:11 p.m. In a meeting with freshman counselors, residential college deans, Old Campus Fellows and emergency personnel at 4 p.m. in William L. Harkness Hall, Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer asked attendees to encourage their freshmen to take the storm seriously and plan for the peak intensity of storm conditions tomorrow morning.

The meeting was moderated by Lorimer, but Maria Bouffard, the University’s director of emergency management services, also spoke. Lorimer and Bouffard underscored advice to have students remain indoors until officials say it is safe to move around outside. The peak intensity of the storm in New Haven will occur between 7 a.m. and noon tomorrow, with 75 mph sustained winds.

“If we had to plan when this would happen … this would be the last time,” Lorimer said, referring to the arrival of freshman on Yale’s campus yesterday. “We try to encourage people to use good sense, [but] if you haven’t been through a hurricane before you may not know what good sense is.”

Lorimer outlined best practices for students in dormitories to follow — picking up food after tonight’s dinner in the residential college dining halls, moving to entryway corridors in the event of broken windows or especially intense winds and monitoring fellow students in basement rooms in the unlikely event of flooding. She also asked for freshman counselors to exercise “nurturing comfort” for their students, especially those that have never experienced a hurricane before.

Lorimer encouraged freshman counselors to have their assigned freshmen to keep in contact with their parents throughout the storm. Lorimer also spoke at today’s Freshman Assembly in Woolsey Hall, reassuring parents that the freshmen would be safe on campus during the storm.

“Very few people have their houses that are as fortified as the Old Campus, and very few people make their own electricity,” she recalled saying to parents of freshmen.

Because the storm is projected to pass through Connecticut with New Haven on its eastern side — the site of the storm’s highest velocity winds — tornados may be possible in the area, Bouffard said. In the event of a tornado, officials will use the Yale Alert system to notify the community.

Because the University relies on the city’s water supply — rather than well water — Lorimer said she does not expect that clean water will be cut off during the storm, but she still recommended stocking up on clean water as a “good precaution.” Yale’s electricity, mostly generated by the University’s power plants, travels through power lines underground that provide additional reliability during a storm, she added.

“Compared to those living off-campus, we have a higher predictability of our own power staying on,” she said in an interview earlier today.

When asked about the “Hurricane Saturday Night Dance Party” to be held at Toad’s Place at 11 p.m. tonight, Lorimer said the University is working with the administration of Toad’s. She added that New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. has asked city establishments to close by 10 p.m., so she said it is likely that the party will not happen.

The University will continue to post routine updates on the Yale Emergency Management website — now linked from the University homepage — and will use the Yale Alert system for any urgent notifications, Lorimer said. The Yale Alert system will also be used to deliver the “all clear” notification that it safe to move about outside, she added.

Starting this evening, the University will increase staff presence at divisions including Yale HEALTH and the Office of Facilities, Lorimer said, adding that individuals began working earlier in the week to prepare the campus for the storm and heavy rainfall that it will bring.

Lorimer said she expects to send another email to the entire student body this evening to update them on best practices for staying safe during the storm.