USM cancels class, prepares for hurricane
Students encouraged to use caution during storm
Published: Monday, August 27, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 21:08
Administrative officials at the University of Southern Mississippi announced early this afternoon that the university will close on Tuesday and Wednesday due to severe weather brought by Tropical Storm Isaac.
The closing includes both the Hattiesburg and Gulf Coast campuses of Southern Miss. Unless circumstances change, the university is set to resume classes on Thursday. Online classes will continue as scheduled unless notified otherwise by the instructor.
Tropical Storm Isaac is currently projected to continue its northwestward march towards the Gulf Coast region, affecting areas in Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Isaac’s potential is expected the reach a Category 1 hurricane as early as Tuesday morning, but as of 11 a.m. Monday, it remained a tropical storm with sustained winds of 65 mph. Isaac is scheduled to make landfall Tuesday night, which is just one day shy of Hurricane Katrina’s anniversary that led to catastrophic disaster in 2005.
Southern Miss officials quickly issued statements regarding the closure. “We didn’t want to put students in a position where they went to class on Tuesday morning and then had to face unsafe weather conditions that afternoon,” said Joe Paul, Vice President of Student Affairs.
Students living in a residence hall do have the option of staying on campus during the storm. The Fresh Food Company will remain open during normal business hours Tuesday, and it will close on Wednesday during breakfast and lunch hours and reopen for dinner.
Boxed meals will be delivered to residence halls during the hours that the FFC is closed.
“I would only encourage and recommend for students to go home if it is close and safe,” Paul said. “Otherwise, students that live on campus are certainly welcomed to stay because we’ll be fully staffed to help take care of their needs.”
One of the first amenities to go during a large storm, especially a hurricane, is a building’s power, but all residence halls and various buildings on campus are equipped with back-up generators. Therefore, student identification cards will still work, and students will have access to their buildings if it loses power.
According to Paul, the university will most likely enforce a curfew from midnight Tuesday to noon Wednesday to prevent students from harm due to possible debris.
Students that have vehicles on campus are highly recommended to relocate them to the second floor of the parking garage to prevent wind and water damage. Certain parts of campus are notorious to garner flash floods. These areas include fraternity row, Pinehaven Circle at sorority row, Kay James Drive at the Dubard School and McCarty Hall parking area.
On behalf of the university, Joe Paul offered a set of precautions. “Be smart,” Paul said.
“This is not Spring Break. This is not a time to run around town; it’s a time to get to the safest place you can be, stay there and stay tuned to the National Weather Service and our updates. It’s not a vacation.”
Southern Miss will continue to update students via Eagle Alert and USM Mailout. Students, faculty and staff may also visit Southernmiss.info to receive storm and class updates.