Safe for now

Brandon Ballenger

Hurricane Irene’s outer storm bands swept through FAU on Aug. 25 and 26, leaving both campus and students soaked. The Category 3 hurricane didn’t hit FAU, but if it did, it would have been stronger than Category 2 Hurricane Frances--which hit in 2004, shutting down classes for nearly two weeks. Photo by Christine Capozziello.

Hurricane Irene was more than 170 miles east of FAU campuses when it passed last Thursday, according to National Hurricane Center data. But that didn’t stop the university from posting three status updates a day to, all of which said things were “operating normally.”

That level of caution may come from experience. In 2004, the UP reported a Category 2 storm named Frances – weaker than Category 3 Irene – struck and shut down the Boca campus for almost two weeks. That’s how long it took to restore power, clear debris across campus and remove the uprooted giant ficus trees that once sat behind the administration building.
There was serious damage to students’ free time, too. The UP reported that administrators sent an email to faculty leaving it up to them to decide how to make up lost class time. Here are the options FAU put on the table, which could be used again: “Use of Friday, Saturday or Sunday [time] blocks; Use of holiday time; Extension of class meeting times; Elimination or abbreviation of class break time; Additional office hours for tutorials; Additional on-line activities; and Additional assignments.”
Hurricane season officially runs until Nov. 30, so we aren’t in the clear yet. And you can expect the university to remind you of that – the departure of Hurricane Irene coincidentally lines up with the beginning of FAU’s annual Safety Month. This will include lessons and activities on how to respond to all kinds of danger, from CPR and fire prevention, to drunk driving and date rape. But given the recent weather, there’s one topic sure to come up: hurricanes.
Info for resident students
FAU may decide to evacuate the campus following a hurricane warning. If that happens, no student will be allowed to stay on or enter campus until the university is officially reopened, so consider taking anything you need. (See links for a supply list.) Remember you may have to carry everything around for a while, though.
Residents should park their vehicles in the garage. Bicycles can be stored in dorms, but not motorcycles or mopeds. Improperly parked vehicles may still be removed regardless of the weather.
Students are encouraged to stay with friends or family, but those with neither nearby can stay at a designated Red Cross shelter. Housing will provide exact locations and transportation. But these places may not offer much privacy and could be crowded. They also probably won’t tolerate hurricane parties.
Safety Month
Safety is a serious operation at FAU. The university has plans in place for just about every potential disaster situation, from campus plane crashes to hostage-taking. Most of it is available online, and students may find some of it fascinating. For example, they have a 38-page Crisis Action Guide (see link below) designed for the community, which includes tips on things like how to interview a campus bomber over the phone
There’s also plenty of complicated stuff that might be considered boring. For example,FAU requires individual university departments to come up with comprehensive plans to respond to emergencies, and these include 30 pages of flow charts, lists and instructions. Plus, there’s a 43-page template for something called a Continuity of Operations Plan.
But FAU tries to give safety and preparedness a wider appeal with annual Safety Month events, held across multiple campuses. These events cover a range of topics, including alcohol and drug abuse, defensive driving and protecting your property from theft.
Here are a few of the highlights:
  • Safety Fair (Tuesday, 9/6 3:30 to 6 p.m. on the Treasure Coast campus, Wednesday 9/7 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on the Boca campus) Free food and music are planned to bring students in, while “text & walk” and “beer goggles” obstacle courses are planned to get them to stay.
  • Club FAU (Wednesday, 9/7 7 to 9 p.m. on the Jupiter campus) This event simulates a nightclub setting with music, lights and cocktails – non-alcoholic, of course. The goal is to teach students to party safely.
  • DUI & Drunk Goggle Awareness (Tuesday 9/27, 12 to 6 p.m. on the Davie campus, Wednesday 9/28 12 to 6 p.m. on the Fort Lauderdale campus) In the past, this event has given students a chance to simulate a 10 mph car crash and stagger around in beer goggles.
For the full calendar of events, visit
FAU Alert System
Aside from the methods described above, the university can deliver emergency info straight to your phone – but only if you give them your current contact info.
Here’s how to update that:
1. Log into On the Home tab, click FAU Self-Service.
2.Under “Personal Information,” click “Update FAU Alert Phone Numbers” at the bottom of the list.
3.List up to four numbers and check if you want to receive text messages. You can also opt out of alerts.
You may also want to leave FAU emergency contact information for your family. That option is listed under “Personal Information.” And while you won’t be on campus during a hurricane, FAU has a speaker and siren system for unexpected disasters. If you hear it, seek shelter immediately from potential tornadoes, meteors or terrorists.
Stay Informed
When a storm has the potential to threaten FAU,’s front page will post daily status updates (including campus closings and class cancellations) at 6 a.m., 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. Information is also available at If you can’t get online, you can call FAU’s toll-free hotline at             888-8FAUOWL       (832-8695) for info.
Here are some other handy links:
Hurricane Resource Page:
Emergency Supply List:
Hurricane Terms and Definitions:
FAU Safety Month Events: