Preparing for a storm amid new season

Students and faculty are encouraged to take the necessary safety precautions for the hurricane season.  

The Atlantic hurricane season ranges from June 1 to Nov. 30. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Hurricane Center, the season peaks around Sept. 10. While Louisiana is subject to severe storms, such as Hurricane Katrina and the 2016 flood, the university is not as vulnerable as coastal communities. 

“The effects are relative to the veracity of the weather situation,” said Executive Director of Public and Governmental Affairs Erin Cowser. “Sometimes there are limbs that blow down and affiliated power outages. Thankfully, Southeastern is situated far enough inland that storm surge is not a threat.” 

The first step to storm safety is being informed. Students and faculty are urged to register with the emergency alert system. Instructions for signing up can be found by clicking the “Emergency Alert Sign Up” link at the bottom of the university website. 

“It’s wise to have a hurricane kit packed with essentials and important paper documents,” said Cowser. “Backing up important electronic data is always a smart move. You should make a communications plan with family for after the storm. It’s recommended that an out-of-state contact be set in case communication within the state is difficult if not impossible. The Governor’s Office of Homeland Security has a nice app, Get a Game Plan. It’s free, and it can walk you through steps you can take for your personal safety and hurricane preparations.” 

Emergency guides are available online. In cases of emergency, the university has over 40 Code Blue emergency phones around campus and speakers that can broadcast sirens or voice alerts. 

“The protocols and responsibilities are outlined in the university’s Emergency Management Plan,” said Cowser. “The mission of this plan is to protect the health and safety of the campus community by coordinating disaster preparedness planning, risk mitigation, response, emergency communication systems and incident recovery activities.” 

The University Police Department, the University Counseling Center and other departments on campus are available to assist in the case of emergencies. Annette Baldwin, a counselor at the Counseling Center since 2003, has seen students come in after a crisis and try to adjust. 

“When you think of storms like last year or storms like Katrina, a lot of times your community is disrupted,” said Baldwin. “We’ve had families that have had to relocate, so those typical family traditions like if you always got together with your family and extended family, well, now they don’t live locally anymore. A lot of times people have to go through a grief process depending on their variables of what they lost and then again recreating or re-adjusting to a new normal.”

Preparation and response plans are reviewed for any necessary modifications based on past storms. 

“While countless properties throughout the region suffered from last year’s flooding, Southeastern’s buildings were spared,” said Cowser. “Our Emergency Management Plan and MOU’s with partner agencies in the aftermath of severe weather are reviewed annually for any needed updates, tweaks or additions.”