As Nemo buried the Andover campus in snow last weekend, school officials organized travel procedures, food options and snow cleanup.
The record-breaking storm started midday on Friday and continued until late Sunday. It covered New England in more than thirty inches of snow, leaving more than 400,00 people in Massachusetts without power, according to The Weather Channel. It shattered storm records in Maine and was the fifth highest recorded snowfall in Boston.
The storm coincided with Andover’s Mid-Winter Holiday, which complicated both car and plane travel plans for many students. More than 6,600 flights were cancelled in New England, with 650 cancelled from Boston’s Logan Airport, according to AVweb.com, an aviation news source. For the first time since 1978, Massachusetts instituted a travel ban, preventing all driving after 4 p.m. on Friday in the state of Massachusetts, according to “USA Today.”
On Thursday afternoon, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, informed the community that students would be allowed to leave campus early and miss classes in order to reach home safely without travel difficulties. The Dean of Studies’ Office issued Dean’s Excuses so students could leave on Thursday night or early Friday morning to reach their destinations, even if it meant missing all of their classes on Friday. This was the first time the school has ever allowed students to leave campus early, according to Murphy.
“With the long weekend coming up, we were beginning to get requests from parents for their kids to leave early, and just because of the long weekend, we got the sense that if they didn’t leave early, they wouldn’t be able to go home at all,” Murphy said.
“People had been planning to be away, to get some rest and relaxation away from campus, and it seemed really tough to think that they were going to be stuck here if they didn’t need to be,” continued Murphy.
Final sign-in was at 7 p.m. on Friday instead of the usual 10 p.m. in order to ensure that students were indoors before peak blizzard conditions.
“The Dean of Students required a 7 p.m. sign-in to allow time for students to return from Paresky and to ensure they were safely inside dormitories by the time the heaviest of snow and wind began,” said Maureen Ferris, Director of Risk Management, in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
Only two buildings lost heat on campus, Alumni House and the Andover Inn. Both lost heat on Saturday morning and were fixed by noon that day, according to Larry Muench, Director of Facilities.
“We did not lose campus power, which was pleasantly surprising to me. With the high wind forecasted, we planned for a loss of power and were ready to respond to that condition,” Muench said in an e-mail to The Phillipian.
Because of the 4 p.m. travel ban, 18 staff members stayed in Paresky Commons overnight on Friday to serve dinner that night and brunch on Saturday. “Either the employees would leave at three, or they were going to stay the night, and we’re lucky enough that enough people were willing to stay away from their families for the night to feed us,” said Murphy.
Classes continued as scheduled on Friday, though day students were encouraged to stay at home should driving conditions become unsafe, said Murphy.
All activities on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, including a Loop trip, a Boston trip, a forum on Divest Andover, a conference on corporate social responsibility and movie screenings, were cancelled, according to an e-mail to students from Chris Capano, Director of Student Activities.
As in most instances of severe weather, Andover assembled its “Storm Team,” which includes Ferris, Muench and Murphy, as well as Becky Sykes, Associate Head of School, Temba Maqubela, Dean of Faculty, John Rogers, Dean of Studies, Leann Bennett, Director of Human Resources, Thomas Conlon, Director of Public Safety, and Dominic Veneto, Director of Information Technology.
“We [on the Storm Team] discuss issues such as safety of travel, planning for power outages, meal service [and] clearing of campus paths and roadways,” said Ferris.
Nemo is the second major storm to hit Andover this school year, after tropical superstorm Sandy hit during Parents’ Weekend in October. Sandy’s wind and rain hit the east coast, especially New York and New England, according to a previous article in The Phillipian.
“The ability to predict what will happen has improved, so therefore we are able to make some plans ahead of time…That’s been a change in the last five years,” Murphy said.
During Sandy, the school imposed a 6 p.m. sign-in for students on Sunday to prevent them from entering the storm, similar to the sign-in restriction for Nemo. Protocol for Nemo was the same as it was for Sandy and involved coordinating with OPP for cleanup, said Murphy.