Hurricane forces evacuation of more than 6,000 at Rutgers
Hurricane Sandy forced the Rutgers-New Brunswick campus to shutdown for one week. More than 6,000 Students had to be evacuated from Cook, Douglass and College Avenue campuses’ residential areas to Busch and Livingston campuses, as they did not use New Brunswick’s water.
Steven Keleman, director of the Office of Emergency Management, said power went out in a majority of campuses and with losing the city’s water supply, and there was nothing they could do but learn from the situation.
“What we did do is learn from how we handled the operation, moving the students and improving communications,” he said.
The lack of fuel and public transportation did not help as the University could not get faculty and staff back to work once power was up and running.
“We had to develop ways to carpool and pick them up. … That was an obstacle for us,” he said.
Rutgers, along with the Red Cross, provided shelter to about 1,200 people in the aftermath of Sandy. About 900 were from Atlantic County and around 230 from Middlesex County’s surrounding shore communities.
The Sonny Werblin Recreation Center on Busch campus and the Livingston Recreation Center on Livingston campus acted as a shelter up until Thanksgiving, he said. Students living in New Brunswick who needed help were also placed into student centers and were provided food.
Greg Trevor, senior director of University Media Relations, said Rutgers encourages students to sign up for the main University-wide social media distribution pages such as Facebook and Twitter before a major crisis occurs again.
“That way people would get it immediately, rather than searching for it for other means,” he said. “It’s a simple example that could really make a difference.”