Hurricane Sandy Delays Classes, Causes Minor Damages Around Campus

Passing through campus on Monday, Hurricane Sandy knocked down trees, delayed the start of classes on Tuesday and caused power outages in Hearsey House and several faculty homes.

The worst damage occurred at Comstock House, the home of Trish Russell, Interim Dean of West Quad South Cluster, where a tree fell on the roof, according to Larry Muench, Director of Facilities. No injuries were reported, and the Office of Physical Plant (OPP) is working to repair Comstock House.

After Hearsey House lost power, students were evacuated and stayed in Double Brick House until power was restored late Tuesday night, according to Muench.

Muench said that Hurricane Sandy caused less damage than what was initially expected.

“You never know what may occur with wind gusts at hurricane force levels. Some tree limbs caused localized damage to buildings, but overall much less damage than we feared,” said Muench.

2,845 people in Andover, Mass., lost power as of 11 a.m. on Tuesday, according to “The Eagle Tribune.”

Although weather forecasts suggested that the hurricane would have passed by Andover by the start of classes on Tuesday, the administration decided to start classes two hours later in order to give OPP adequate time to clear up debris, according to Becky Sykes, Associate Head of School and member of the Phillips Academy Storm Team.

The administration had also confirmed that 85 percent of boarding students were able to get back on campus by Monday night.

The Storm Team did not cancel classes because after two weeks of unusual schedules, another short week did not seem necessary, according to Sykes.

Sykes said that it was easier to respond to the hurricane than the snowstorm of October 2011, because the weather was warmer and there was no snow on the ground.

Only three large trees were felled by Hurricane Sandy this year, but many branches and limbs littered campus grounds, according to Muench.

It will take several weeks to fully repair campus, according to Muench.

Andover has also slowly been converting all dormitories onto the campus grid in order to minimize power outages.

This year, only four out of the 42 dorms are not on the Andover grid, compared to the seven dormitories that were last year. The four dorms are Hearsey House, Stowe House, French House and Whitney House.

During a power outage, buildings connected to the Andover plant can get power from a backup energy system, but buildings not connected need to wait for National Grid to restore the power, according to Muench.

The back-up generator can currently supply power to 85 buildings on campus, according to an e-mail Sykes sent to the Andover community on Sunday.

“ [National Grid] schedules all repairs, and they restore the more critical loads in priority order,” wrote Muench in an e-mail to The Phillipian. “We usually respond to the PA buildings without power to ensure flooding doesn’t occur, and [we] have the ability to pump out basements if needed. That wasn’t required in this storm.”

OPP began preparing for the storm last week when Hurricane Sandy was south of Florida, according to Muench.

“As the storm neared, we assembled teams of OPP personnel that provided continuous on-site coverage to respond immediately should the need arise,” said Muench.

Sykes said, “At the end of last week [OPP personnel] were going around checking trees to make sure that there weren’t any limbs that looked dead and could possibly come down during the storm. Obviously, we have a lot trees on this campus, so there wasn’t any way for them to guarantee 100 percent that were wouldn’t be any damage from falling trees, but they were just trying to make sure as much as possible the things that could be identified and taken care of.”

“Frankly, a lot of the older trees that could have been damaged were [already] gone [after the October 2011 snowstorm],” she continued.

The PA Storm Team included Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, John Rogers, Dean of Studies, Leeann Bennett, Director of Human Resources, Tom Conlon, Director of Public Safety, Maureen Ferris, Director of Risk Management, Tracy Sweet, Director of Academy Communications, Dominic Veneto, Director of Information Technology, Muench and Sykes.