Sandy largely spares state, University
University administration cancels classes, but Charlottesville experiences only minor power outages
Hurricane Sandy has departed, leaving Charlottesville mostly untouched but sending waves flooding through Maryland and cutting power in New York City.
The University canceled classes Monday and Tuesday as a safety precaution, marking the first time the University has ever canceled two consecutive days of classes, University Historian Alexander “Sandy” Gilliam said. “This is definitely unusual for the University, and what had everybody worried was the wind and the damage that can do,” he said.
The Charlottesville Police Department did not receive any damage reports from the storm, Charlottesville Police Lieut. Ronnie Roberts said. Albemarle County police, however, did respond to a tree that fell on the side of a house on the west side of the county.
But it could have been a lot worse for Charlottesville residents, Roberts said.
“You never can predict where or when the storm will hit directly, but the most important thing is that we are prepared,” he said. “We can’t control the damages, but by working together during these types of moments we remain a community.”
Although there were high chances of power outages in the area, it appears they were confined at the University to a few buildings on Route 250 West about 8:30 p.m. Monday. Students reported losing power briefly in Dabney dormitory, University Heights Apartments and Jefferson Park Avenue.
Wind damage seems to be minimal, as well.
Classes will recommence Wednesday with the hurricane’s departure, and the University will resume a standard operating schedule.
“I’ve been here 17 years and it’s been a pretty rare occasion to have classes canceled,” Batten Prof. David Breneman said. “Of course this storm was hard to predict … it could have been a lot worse. As it turned out there wasn’t that much trouble.”
The National Weather Service released a blizzard warning Monday afternoon through 2 p.m. Tuesday for Charlottesville regions elevated above 2,000 feet.
“The most recent … flooding … information indicates this is about the level we experienced several years ago with Hurricane Isabel,” Gov. Bob McDonnell said in a press conference Monday afternoon.
In addition, McDonnell requested and was awarded emergency assistance from the federal government Monday to help state and local governments recover from the damage Hurricane Sandy inflicted. FEMA will deploy federal resources if local and state officials deem them necessary.
Resident advisors at the University encouraged students to stay inside their buildings while the storm brewed outside, first-year College student Alicia Underhill said.
“I still think [the cancellations] were good for safety, as there wasn’t a way for them to know if [the hurricane] would hit us badly,” she said. “My home high school was shut down for two days, so I was worried about it hitting here, but had a feeling it wouldn’t be as bad [here] as it was up there.”
Third-year Engineering student Dan Jimenez said his teachers have made some class material available online during the storm, whereas others have pushed Monday’s material into the next lecture. “[The cancellations] were a good precaution just in case the storm got bad, but given how it turned out it wasn’t justified,” he said. “We couldn’t have predicted how hard it would hit.”
Despite the fact that Sandy did not hit as hard as anticipated, Gilliam said he does not think future cancellations will be any less likely. “If there’s a perceived danger … the University will close,” he said. “Everyone thought [this storm] was going to be really bad.”
The last time the University faced major setbacks because of inclement weather conditions was during a blizzard in 1996, but that storm coincided with days already given off for winter vacation.