Message from the DOU: Hurricane Laura

Message from the DOU: Hurricane Laura

August 25, 2020

Dear Students –

As you might know, tropical storm Laura became Hurricane Laura this afternoon and is moving across the Gulf of Mexico. While the exact track of the storm is not known, models are indicating that it may make landfall near Houston. This is currently a strengthening storm, and Hurricane Laura is projected to make landfall with very strong winds late Wednesday night/early Thursday morning.

As a reminder, you can go emergency.rice.edu to for more information on the storm, where you’ll also find a Hurricane and Severe Weather guide. The City of Houston also has an Emergency Preparedness brochure that you might find helpful. I also like Space City Weather as a source of information on our local forecast and storm discussion.

Some of you remember Hurricane Harvey three years ago, but please know that this storm is different. Harvey was a high rain event, but this looks to be more similar to Hurricane Ike in 2008, which was a high wind event.

For those who live off campus, please be prepared to shelter in place (i.e., seek shelter in a building one is currently occupying) and follow the directions of local officials. If you live in an apartment complex or rental house, check in with your landlord to see what preparations are being made for your safety. Further, ask if the property were to become uninhabitable, how will the management company assist you. Take the opportunity now to make sure you have several days’ supply of medications, non-perishable food, and water. By 8pm tomorrow, the City of Houston is advising that all persons are off the roads and into their homes, because the winds will start picking up -- so please plan accordingly. If off campus students have questions or concerns related to the storm and sheltering in place, please contact your college magister.

As a reminder, Rice RUPD can be reached at 713-348-6000 and will remain available throughout the storm. If you are off campus and experience an emergency, please dial 911.

For those who live on campus,

  • The Magisters of your college will have the detailed plan for your shelter in place. Please be prepared to shelter in your room, or the location indicated by your Magisters, beginning at 8:00 pm tomorrow night until the storm has passed. Please remember to adhere to campus rules regarding masking and physical distancing.
  • Please avoid standing, laying, or sitting next to any windows, and be sure to remove all items in front of windows.
  • After 8:00pm tomorrow evening, do not attempt to go outside before you are told that it is safe to leave your shelter in place location. In high-wind hurricanes such as this, tree limbs and other debris can become dangerous projectiles, and our campus is known for its abundance of trees. When Hurricane Ike hit in 2008, trees and tree limbs came down all across the campus, and it would be extremely dangerous to be outside under these conditions. Please take this warning incredibly seriously. Everyone is required to stay in their designated shelter space until you receive word from Rice officials that it is OK to go outside. Please allow Rice time to check campus before you leave your college. There is likely to be a lot of debris on campus that can pose a significant danger until it is cleared away.
  • As a reminder, the campus remains dry, meaning that all rules previously stated on this remain in place (i.e., no alcohol consumption, or parties in which alcohol is served, should be occurring on campus).

Additionally, know that power outages are extremely likely in high-wind events such as this. Please remember that the University has power generators. They are not sufficient to power the entire campus, but the colleges are among the highest priorities. Should the campus lose power, the generators will turn on, but they will take between 20 and 30 minutes to power up. The bottom line - if we lose power, stay calm, we will very likely get power back to the residential colleges within an hour.

Whether you live on or off campus, please make sure your cell phones and laptops are charged and check your email regularly to look for future messages from me, from your residential college magisters, and from the Rice Crisis Management Team. If you have not already done so, please sign up so you will receive emergency alerts from Rice Alerts.

Students who currently park on campus will be able to move their cars after 5:00pm on Wednesday 8/26 to the Cambridge parking garage (located near Entrance 3), or any other campus parking lot, during the storm. Please remember: This may be a high wind storm, so plan accordingly if you move your car.

Any storm as large as Hurricane Laura has the potential to be a dangerous weather event. Everyone needs to take this seriously, pay attention to what is happening, and prepare to be as safe as possible until the storm has passed. Over the next 24 hours we will learn more about the path and intensity of this storm, and we will communicate to you with updates as we go.

In the days ahead, it looks like we will be facing some inconvenience and less comfort than we are accustomed to. Please be patient with one another, and if you are on campus please cooperate with your college magisters, RAs, and other university officials who are looking out for your wellbeing.

Stay safe everyone,

Bridget Gorman, Dean of Undergraduates