Disaster could rattle campus

Although hurricane Katrina has passed, the nearing of the new storm Ophelia, reminds Americans that the hurricane season is not over yet.

Katrina impacted various universities in the Gulf region, and in the wake of Katrina’s vast destruction, FAMU is making sure students are safe on campus in the event of a natural disaster or emergency.

FAMU has made several plans and preparations, including the Emergency Contingency & Continuity of Operations Plan (ECCOP).

The ECCOP is a document created by the University that outlines all procedures and plans of action to be taken in the event of various natural disasters.

The University’s concern lies with the safety of all students, but is chiefly focused on students who reside on campus.

In addition to the University’s own emergency operation plans, FAMU has set up joint emergency evacuation plans with the Leon County and State of Florida Emergency Operation Centers.

Students who reside off campus or cannot be accommodated on campus during an emergency would be directed to shelters throughout the Leon County/Big Bend area.

University officials have also taken measures to ensure that there are approximately ten facilities on campus that are capable of withstanding Category 2 hurricane winds, and can serve as possible on-campus shelters.

Some of these structures include the Dyson Pharmacy building, the School of Business and Industry building, Foster Tanner Music building, and the newly constructed School of Journalism.

According to the ECCOP, many of these buildings “do not meet criteria as approved emergency shelters, but they are the best choice if emergency conditions dictate that FAMU facilities must be used as temporary emergency shelters.”

Chief Calvin Ross, director of the FAMU Emergency Management Team, expressed deep concern over the issue of student welfare in the event of a disaster. “The best thing students can do is be prepared ahead of time. It’s important not to be lackadaisical about storms,” Ross said.

In the aftermath of Katrina, many FAMU students have taken the initiative to prepare themselves and their belongings in case of a hurricane.

“We don’t want students to fail to act or overreact. Students should act responsibly and stay tuned to the updates that will be placed on the FAMU website, (in the event of a disaster),” Ross said.

In addition to being prepared, students are also being urged to purchase full coverage insurance on all their belongings.

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf states has left an impact on many members of the FAMU student body.

In addition to the concern for the victims of this tragedy, there is also a noticeably growing concern among FAMU students as to whether or not they are truly safe in Tallahassee in the event of a natural disaster.

Evette Shotwell, a freshman pharmacy student from Miami said if a hurricane came to Tallahassee, she would be prepared because she has insurance on everything and a cousin who lives in the Tallahassee area.

Unfortunately, all FAMU students aren’t as prepared as they should be.

Domonique Goins, 18, a freshman chemistry student from Orlando said, “I’d have nowhere to go. I would only feel safe to a certain extent staying on campus and I would probably have to stay in a shelter.”

Many students, especially most out-of-state students, are in the same predicament as Goins.

Despite the uncertainty some students have regarding FAMU’s emergency evacuation plans, University officials continue to reiterate their concern.

The safety of students is FAMU officials’ top priority as illustrated through the university’s emergency mission statement, “things can be replaced, you cannot.”

Contact Gheni Platenburg at famuannews@hotmail.com