In wake of Hurricane Matthew, institutions reassess emergency preparedness plans
- Several coastal institutions remain closed Monday, as leaders continue to assess the damage from Hurricane Matthew, which ravaged parts of Florida and South Carolina over the weekend.
- At the University of Miami, classes and facilities have been canceled and closed since Thursday, and Inside Higher Ed reports Flagler College expects to be closed for several more days.
- Some areas of Florida, according to news and weather projections, could be inaccessible for "weeks or months," calling into question how the state will respond to potential and massive damages to campus structures, access points and operational integrity.
Some observers believe that increased fuel and energy costs, long power outages and lack of retail revenue could be among the post-storm economic factors that could significantly impact large enterprises like colleges and universities. Natural disasters typically yield an outpouring of support from private donations, as well as the activation of emergency management funds from state and federal resources. But for higher education, the prospects for damage and recovery can be slower moving and farther reaching than typical civic storm response.
Certain parts of campuses in Baton Rouge will wait for years for federal or state funding to renovate or rebuild structures damaged by recent storms. Southern University in New Orleans is still in queue for funds to rebuild or abate certain buildings damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Bureaucracy is the nature of the beast in any situation requiring emergency or immediate funding, but institutions which are transparent about preparation and post-disaster assessment strategies are best positioned to move to the front of requests for support.