UMES awakens Sunday to Irene's aftermath
PRINCESS ANNE, MD - (Sunday, Aug. 28, 2011) - UMES students who spent Saturday night in an on-campus shelter returned to their dormitories and apartments shortly after sunrise Sunday when university officials determined the worst of Hurricane Irene had passed the region.
“They were ready to go,” said Ronnie Holden, vice president for administrative affairs, who with dozens of colleagues spent Saturday night on campus.
About 300 students who already had moved onto campus and into apartments adjacent to campus last week were ordered to evacuate their housing Saturday morning as a precaution in anticipation of the storm’s arrival.
“Everything went according to plan,” Holden said. “A lot of them thought it was an adventure.”
Classes for undergraduates begin Wednesday, and sophomores, juniors and seniors had been told they could move into on-campus housing Sunday.
The campus is open, but university officials are asking students arriving for the start of classes this week to wait until Monday before checking into dormitories.
Nicholas Blanchard, dean of UMES' School of Pharmacy and Health Professions, said pharmacy classes will be held as scheduled Monday.
A make-up orientation session for freshmen also will be held Monday morning. Anthony Jenkins, the vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, estimated about 120 freshmen opted not to travel to campus Friday, when orientation had been scheduled.
Aside from a 75-minute midday power outage Saturday that also affected some areas of Princess Anne, the UMES campus weathered the slow-moving storm overnight without major incident.
Winds from the backside of the storm continued to whip rain Sunday morning in bursts just as it did Saturday afternoon, stripping trees of leaves and knocking down dead branches. Three trees adjacent to the Somerset-Harford hall complex on the historic Academic Oval each lost a major branch.
Overnight, however, there appeared to be no problems with electricity.
In fact, Holden noted that students had plenty of (electric-powered) entertainment options: movies, videos and games to keep them occupied.
And aside from standing water in low-lying areas of campus, a branch of the Manokin River that runs alongside campus had not caused any flooding problems by early Sunday morning. At one point late Saturday afternoon, the ponds in front of the Student Services Center, which was serving as the evacuation shelter, had whitecaps.
Meanwhile, UMES personnel who make up the emergency response team were continuing to monitor buildings to assess whether any were experiencing leaks from water damage.
Holden, a long-time UMES administrator who oversaw storm response, said the university’s emergency plan was executed flawlessly, and he credited “all the volunteers who made it work. Thank you.”