Weather causes early close, late start at the College

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November 13, 2009

3:45 AM

Torrential rain and strong winds throughout the mid-Atlantic region this week left the College of William and Mary with 38 leaks and counting.

Associate Vice President for Facilities Management Dave Shepard said that as of yesterday afternoon, the rains caused numerous water leaks in buildings around campus.

“We don’t have flooding,” he said. “We have some leaks in places. From roofs, walls, windows. The only place we have truly had flooding is the basement of Themes [House], because of the saturation.”

Shepard said flooding in the Themes House, which houses the College’s human resources department, is due to the nature of the building’s construction, which allowed for groundwater to seep in.

Other buildings affected by leaks on campus include the Sarah Ives Gore Child Care Center, the Sadler Center, Swem Library and Phi Beta Kappa Hall. Shepard said most residence buildings were unaffected as of Thursday afternoon. The units reported some flooding in the evening.

“[The Sadler Center] probably has more leaks than we’ve experience in the past caused by a combination of wind and the amount of rain,” Shepard said.

Events in the Sadler Center’s Lodge 1 were also cancelled Thursday evening due to flooding.

The College reported that as long as the rain and wind continue, nothing can be done to repair current damage.

“We are trying to deal with [leaks] right now as things come up,” Shepard said. “We are inspecting issues, trying to mitigate any damage that might be caused because we can’t really repair anything while the wind and rain is still ongoing.”

As of 2:00 p.m. Thursday, Shepard reported approximately 38 leaks. However, he expects that number to increase as the weather continues.

The College also experienced several power and internet outages last night due to the weather.

College spokesperson Brian Whitson said the decision to stop university operations rests with College Provost Michael R. Halleran under the guidance of the College’s Emergency Management Team and other senior administrators. “Today’s decision was largely based on concerns for members of the community who needed to travel to and from areas experiencing flooding or other issues,” Whitson said. “We wanted those folks to have an opportunity to return home before it got dark.”

Halleran released an e-mail to the College community yesterday, canceling all undergraduate classes yesterday after 4:00 p.m., and all classes at the Marshall-Wythe School of Law after 6:00 p.m.

“In making these decisions, we balance weather conditions, ttravel by staff, students and faculty, etc., and the impact of closing on our academic activities” Halleran said in an e-mail, “By mid-day, closing early seemed the most prudent course.”

The storm system that is currently hitting the campus — labeled by The Weather Channel as the “Son of Ida” — is a storm of equal impact as the hurricane that preceded it. The Weather Channel said that high-pressure gradients between two pressure systems have created strong winds and flash flooding. The weather service also reported that the storm should be out of the area by Saturday.

Shepard said at the time that he believes that The College will operate tomorrow just like any other day.

“[Friday] is a normal working day,” Shepard said. “I don’t expect that to change looking at the weather.”
Last evening, College officials delayed the opening of operations today by two hours to 10 a.m.

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