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October 30, 2012

Officials: Colleges closed, prepared for outages

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — Area colleges canceled classes Monday, and in some cases today, because of weather conditions imposed on the area by superstorm Sandy.

But colleges are ready for any electrical outages with generators on campus, which can provide power, continuing dining and other services, said college officials who have been monitoring weather reports and consulting emergency authorities.

Power outages have been predicted as a result of high winds from the storm taking down trees and wires, weather and emergency officials said.

“We have generators for major campus buildings,’’ Joel Smith, vice president of college relations at SUNY Cobleskill, said Monday. The generators provide emergency power to support food services, lighting and plumbing systems, he said, and meal services will be consolidated at one dining facility.

Smith said about 1,300 students at the State University College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill live on campus.

However, about 40 percent of the student body is enrolled in agricultural programs, Smith said, and many of those students go home on weekends. As a result of the impending storm and the college’s decision to be closed Monday and today, about 400 students were able to extend their home visits until Wednesday, when the campus is set to re-open, he said.

Classes at the State University College of Technology at Delhi were canceled as of 4 p.m. Monday and were scheduled to resume Wednesday, Communications Director Kimberly MacLeod said.

SUNY Delhi also has generators, MacLeod said, and when Farrell Hall, the student union and community center, was renovated in recent years, it was configured for use in emergency situations. About 1,735 students live on campus, she said, and if power goes out, meal services will be consolidated at Farrell Hall.

SUNY Delhi warned students not to use candles, which pose a fire risk, during a power outage. The college administration sent an email to students with other steps to prepare for an outage, such as immediately charging all electronic devices, including computers and cell phones; filling water bottles and conserving water; and contacting relatives to “let them know you are OK and tell them that the college is taking steps to ensure services.’’

At the State University College at Oneonta, classes between 1 p.m. Monday and noon today were canceled, website messages said. The campus’s event calendar was posting cancellations for specific activities and events, and the college was maintaining normal operations in all residence and dining halls, the library and athletics and other facilities.

SUNY Oneonta spokesman Hal Legg didn’t return messages left Monday seeking further details.

Hartwick College in Oneonta also closed at 1 p.m. Monday and will re-open at noon today. All classes, activities and events at the college during that period were canceled.

About 1,180 of Hartwick’s 1,500 students live on campus, media relations manager Valerie Capullo said. As a residential college, essential campus services including the dining hall will remain open throughout the weather-related closure, she said.

Aramark food production manager Emil Hansen said a generator is available at the college to support dining hall services, and another provision to maintain services include switching to paper products.

Hartwick also issued safety guidelines for students during the storm.