SGU Dangerous Weather Emergency Plan

Updated October 2017

INTRODUCTION

The regular hurricane season in the Caribbean and Atlantic Ocean extends from June 1 to November 30 of each year. St. George’s University is located in Grenada, just north of South America and below the path most hurricanes follow.

In the past 60 years, Grenada has only had one major hurricane. In 2004, a severe storm hit Grenada. However, the St. George’s campus, built to withstand a Category 5 hurricane, was a safe haven for our students, staff, and faculty. Damage on campus was limited to the loss of some roof tiles. In fact, SGU generators and water desalination plants served our neighborhood in Grenada for a few months.

We have continued to prepare our campus for weather-related events. To ensure the safety of the University community, St. George’s University has developed an emergency plan based on an all-hazards approach that will be executed in the event of a dangerous weather system threatening the island.

LIST OF ACRONYMS

SGU – St. George’s University
IMT – Incident Management Team (Grenada)
CMT – Crisis Management Team (New York)
OUC – Office of University Communications
DPSS – Department of Public Safety and Security
NaDMA – National Disaster Management Agency (Grenada)
SOC – Security Operations Center
RA – Resident Assistant
USS – University Support Services (New York)

INCIDENT MANAGEMENT TEAM

St. George’s University maintains an Incident Management Team (IMT). Lead by the Executive Director of the Department of Public Safety and Security (DPSS), the IMT will coordinate all aspects of the University’s Emergency Operation Plan, and respond to a range of emerging threats, including dangerous weather. The IMT operates on proven emergency management best practices and utilizes the Incident Command System.

Members of the IMT span the University’s stakeholders and include key management staff from public safety, facilities, transportation, housing, food services, and communication departments, as well as senior academic leadership and executive operations personnel. The IMT is responsible for planning and executing the Emergency Operation Plan from preparedness, to response, and through the recovery phases.

During natural disaster and weather-related emergencies, the IMT maintains constant contact with Grenada’s National Disaster Management Agency (NaDMA), and in large events will have an IMT member at the National Command Post. SGU DPSS leadership also serve as permanent members of NaDMA’s National Emergency Advisory Committee (NEAC).

For the duration of the emergency event, the Executive Director DPSS and Incident Management Team shall communicate at regular intervals with the Crisis Management Team at University Support Services in New York.

YEAR-ROUND PREPAREDNESS

The Security Operations Center (SOC) is a state of the art operations center located in the heart of SGU’s True Blue campus in Grenada. The SOC is manned around the clock, 365 days per year with trained public safety communicators. The SOC handles security and facilities communications on a day-to-day basis, and monitor a variety of public safety platforms – including weather. The SOC is equipped with several layers of redundant systems that can maintain communications and situational awareness of all events.

If a potential tropical storm develops, the SOC will track it from its origin. In the event of an approaching threat, the Executive Director DPSS may stand up additional portions of the IMT at any time – including communicating essential information to all students, staff, and faculty about safety precautions, the status of daily operations, class cancellations, and protective actions.

DPSS and the IMT work together with SGU’s Office of University Communications and the Office of Information Technology to maintain a range of community notification platforms. In the event of an emergency – potential or active – a range of tools will be deployed, including the following:

  • University-wide emails
  • DPSS Facebook and Twitter
  • SGU’s Website, Internal Portal, and Social Media Platforms
  • SGU’s FM Radio Station (107.5FM, https://www.sgu.edu/radio/)
  • SGU Emergency Notification System
  • Class Announcements
  • Physical Bulletin Board Postings
  • Face to Face Meetings with Resident Assistants

Students are strongly encouraged to keep their contact information up-to-date in BANNER, and include local cell phone numbers and off campus housing locations. This ensures that all students will receive emergency communications.

Login To Banner Self Service

PREPAREDNESS INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS

Students are strongly encouraged to register with their national embassies or to notify their government of their extended stay in Grenada.

US EMBASSY SMART TRAVELER PROGRAM: https://step.state.gov/step/

GOVERNMENT OF CANADA: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration

GREAT BRITAIN:  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-grenada

If you are unable to find additional embassy registration, seek information online and with the Dean of Students office.

The University community should always be ready for any emergency and a simple precaution is to prepare an emergency kit or go bag. EMERGENCY KIT or GO BAG. Suggested preparations can be found below on line at https://www.ready.gov/

Follow these simple examples of general personal preparation:

  • Keep cell phones charged with available talk-time credit balances.
  • Place important documents (passport, insurance, medical records, bank account numbers, vital documents, etc.) in a waterproof container. Simple zip-lock bags are often sufficient.
  • Keep some cash (EC and US) on hand in a safe location.
  • Have a kit of emergency supplies available: Drinking water, flashlight and batteries, matches, candles, duct tape, plastic trash bags, battery or hand-operated FM radio, mosquito repellents, sunscreen, broad brim hat, and shelf stable snacks.
  • Pack toiletries and medicines/prescription drugs that you need in a small bag. Know ahead of time what else you need to have, such as changes of clothes, shoes.  In the event of an evacuation, keep in mind that you may be limited to very few personal items. Decide what goes and what stays.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. If relocated from a building, wear thick-soled, close-toed shoes or sneakers and comfortable clothing that will hold up in any situation.
  • Non-perishable food and water provisions for 3-5 days are recommended. Plan for at least 1 gallon of water per day, per person. Sinks and/or bathtubs, buckets or plastic wastebaskets should be filled with water for washing and flushing.
  • Unplug all electrical equipment and place as high as possible, preferably on a high shelf in the closet. Don’t open refrigerator or freezer unless necessary and if so, do it briefly.
  • Water may enter your room, so anything on or near the floor – shoes, suitcases, rugs, etc – should be moved to high shelves or dresser drawers.
  • Have a buddy system in place.  Give at least one person on campus (friend/ roommate) your personal contact information. Develop a plan to stay together or have a meeting place should you get separated in a real emergency.
  • Have a plan with parents/relatives/friends at home in case of emergency. Give them the telephone numbers for University Support Services in New York.
    US/Canada Toll-Free: +1 (800) 899-6337 or Worldwide: +1 (631) 665-8500
  • Follow directions. In the event of an emergency, it is best to follow instructions of those individuals in charge to maintain order and efficiency.
  • Be aware of surroundings. In the event of an emergency be aware of live utility wires, standing water, and falling or fallen debris. If SHELTERING IN PLACE remain inside until an ALL CLEAR is sent by the University.
  • Be sensible. If there is no immediate danger where you are, SHELTER IN PLACE, do not go out. Stay in the safest place possible.
  • Refrain from the use of alcohol and other risk taking behavior.

EMERGENCY – ALERT STAGE

When potentially threatening weather develops over the Atlantic Ocean, the IMT will increase readiness and communications well before a weather pattern poses a hazard to Grenada. The University may be under the Alert Stage for several days or weeks before a predicted storm landfall. SOC staff will track potential weather and make notifications through the Incident Management Team, who will notify the entire University community if a weather system poses a hazard to Grenada.

All students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to pay close attention to University communications. Weather tracking websites like NOAA.com, and aggregate meteorological services like http://spaghettimodels.com are a valuable resource.

The IMT will provide information updates as they become available from NaDMA and will communicate at regular intervals to the University community.

Students are encouraged to contact their families to advise them of potentially hazardous conditions via email, telephone, and social media.

EMERGENCY – WATCH PHASE

Within 36 hours of predicted landfall of a tropical cyclone, the Executive Director DPSS will:

  • Stand up the SOC’s Emergency Operations Center with the necessary IMT personnel on a 24-hour basis.
  • Inform all students about possible potential protective action procedures, and at what point academic cancellations will go into effect.
  • Updates will be given at regular intervals via official University communication channels. All information and communications will come directly from the IMT.

In the event of a Tropical Storm or Hurricane Watch, students should actively prepare to protect themselves and their property, and listen attentively for further announcements. An emergency kit and items needed when relocating to a shelter should have already been prepared and inspected.

Depending on the severity of the approaching weather system, a timely decision on the proper Protective Action will be made and communicated to the SGU community. All members will be directed as to the level of protective action required – shelter in place, relocations, or evacuation.

EMERGENCY – WARNING PHASE

A HURRICANE WARNING INDICATES THAT HURRICANE CONDITIONS ARE EXPECTED WITHIN THE WARNING AREA WITHIN THE NEXT 24 HOURS. PREPARATIONS TO PROTECT LIFE AND PROPERTY SHOULD BE NEAR COMPLETION.

  • Ensure your cell phones and battery-operated devices are fully charged.
  • Have a communications plan with family members overseas.

Prior to the warning stage, students, faculty, and staff will be directed as to the level of protective action required (shelter in place, relocations, or evacuation), the timeline of protective action, and specific instructions for execution.

Members of the SGU community are required to follow all on-campus restrictions and curfews as enforced by DPSS, SGU administration, Resident Assistants (RAs) and Shelter Wardens.

  • No alcohol may be brought into the campus or consumed in the shelter areas for the duration of the emergency, regardless of age.
  • Candles shall not be permitted for on campus lighting, FLASHLIGHTS ONLY.
  • Students must follow direction from RA’s and Shelter Wardens to ensure their safety by any methods including the following when necessary:
    • Moving to an interior room or hallway to avoid potential injury from broken glass and flying objects striking the windows;
    • Propping box springs, mattress, or other material over windows in rooms being used as shelters, and other actions that might be necessary.
    • Students are required to comply with emergency procedures to ensure the safety of the University community.

No one (students, faculty or staff) is permitted to remain in campus buildings – other than designated shelters and incident management sites – for any reason.

EMERGENCY – THE EVENT

Students should be aware that during the Emergency Event, normal electrical and water capacities may be limited to preserve the integrity of the facilities and to permit a rapid start-up after the Event.

Students are responsible for obeying all emergency instructions and behaving in a professional manner during the emergency. 

PROTECTIVE ACTIONS

Depending on the severity of the storm and the predicted track, the decision on the level of protective action will be made and communicated to the community. SGU’s Housing Department personnel will manage the intake and assignment of shelters in an orderly system to account for all.

SHELTER IN PLACE

Dangerous weather conditions are rare, and in most cases, the University community will be advised to shelter in place. If you reside off-campus and have secure accommodations, the University strongly urges everyone to update their locations and local phone contacts in Banner Self Service.

In a shelter in place scenario, students already on campus will remain in their assigned dorms and may be required to accommodate off-campus students who lack appropriate off-campus accommodation.

Members of the University community who reside in off-campus housing that is unsafe should request shelter on the True Blue campus through the Housing Office at least 24 hours before landfall.

Once in shelter, all SGU members should remain in their assigned spaces so that the University can account for and assess the safety of the student body.  Any student wishing to shelter with friends at a location other than their assigned location should indicate their shelter decision and specific location to the Housing Department at least 24 hours before expected landfall.

MANDATORY RELOCATION TO CAMPUS

In the event of a dangerous, major category storm, the University will announce the MANDATORY relocation of all students, faculty and staff to the True Blue campus for safe shelter. The intake process, location and schedule will be communicated to the SGU community through all available communications channels.

SGU invites all students (including Grenadian residents), all staff, and all faculty, along with immediate family members, to seek safe shelter on the True Blue campus during a major hurricane.  All members of the SGU community will be required to register their physical location and emergency contacts with members of the Housing Department. The full process will be detailed in announcement materials.

For some in the community, it may be advantageous to seek shelter in an approved NaDMA shelter close to home and family.

The SGU community will be informed of emergency transportation schedules for relocation to the True Blue campus and specific shelter assignment upon arrival. If advised to relocate, students must follow all instructions and emergency regulations. Parking is not available for all students on True Blue campus; bus transportation is advised.

Special consideration will be made for students with pets. Specific True Blue shelters will be provided for cohabitation with pets.

All pets must have a crate or carrier, leashes, and a pet-appropriate disaster supply kit (food, water, etc.) when relocating to a shelter.  Pet owners should bring the pet’s licenses, immunization records, ownership papers, and a photo for identification/finding purposes. Pet owners are encouraged to develop a plan and have a clear direction as to what to do with their pets.

CAMPUS EVACUATION

If a dangerous, major storm approaches Grenada, and time permits, the IMT may recommend full or partial evacuation of the student community to an off-island facility.

Evacuation prior to the event will be a personal decision for each member of the University community.

EMERGENCY – RECOVERY, POST EVENT

Once a dangerous storm has passed, due to potential outdoor hazards, the SGU community shall remain sheltered until the IMT can conduct a Damage and Needs Assessment to ensure all areas are safe.

Only the Exec. Director DPSS, after consultation with NaDMA and the IMT may declare an ALL CLEAR. The IMT will notify the SGU community that conditions no longer pose a threat.

The IMT, after conferring with the senior academic leadership and operational executives, will update the emergency information telephone line and all other SGU communication channels with the time and date of the next briefing.

Students who are leaving campus after sheltering there must check in with designated Shelter Manager or RA for physical accounting purposes, clearly communicating the name and local contact information of each departing student. After doing so, students are then released from shelters.

As soon as wide external communication tools are restored, students are encouraged to contact their parents/family. If landlines and cell networks are not working, students will be able to send messages through the Crisis Management Team in New York with a staff of volunteers to ensure that all messages are sent.

The IMT will announce the overall situational status, the date/time of resumption of classes, and indicate when the next scheduled update will be given.

If the need arises, students may be eligible to volunteer through the Student Government Association to help restore normal function on campus and/or in the wider community.

In the unusual event that the University is deemed unsafe or conditions in Grenada require an evacuation, the IMT will communicate the activation of its University Services Resumption Plan.

As arrangements are made, students will be transported to the airport. All travel expenses incurred are the individual’s responsibility. All students are reminded that they must bring along their passports and visas. If you are trying to evacuate with a pet, you must have all regular and necessary travel documents.

Evacuations may limit the number of personal belongings accepted for travel. Belongings above the allowable flight limit will be left at the airport.