After an unprecedented shutdown in the aftermath of Hurricane Wilma -- the 21st named storm of the record-breaking 2005 season -- the FAU community is finally returning to a semblance of normal life. Lack of electricity, damage to some buildings and post-hurricane hardships including long gas lines and curfews triggered a litany of cancellations, postponements and reschedulings. Here are some of the changes in the academic calendar:
- All three commencement ceremonies will now be held on Friday, Dec. 9, rather than spread out over Dec. 8 and 9, as originally planned. The new times will be announced as soon as a determination is made about using the FAU Arena (formerly the FAU Gym) which was badly damaged in the storm.
- Reading Day will be an instructional day.
- The final exam schedule will start on Dec. 2, but some classes may use time during the week of Dec. 10-17 to make up material, if needed.
For the most up-to-date information and procedures on the academic recovery effort, go to www.fau.edu/recovery05/faculty.htm.
Hurricane Wilma lashed every FAU campus with sustained hurricane-force winds. At one point, the northern eyewall was battering the Treasure Coast campus as the southern eyewall was pummeling the Broward campuses. Minutes later, the Boca Raton and Jupiter campuses felt the fury of the surprisingly strong back half of the storm.
Wilma dealt a severe blow to the Boca Raton campus, completely destroying the roofs of the Science & Engineering Building and the FAU Arena (gym). Temporary repairs are in progress, with new roofs expected to be installed in the next six to nine months. The Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts & Letters complex and the Wimberly Library also sustained roof damage, and the Education Building was left with window and ceiling damage.
About half of the blue directional signs on campus and 35 percent of the outdoor lighting fixtures were destroyed. Nearly all the traffic and safety signage has been repaired, and grounds cleanup is nearing completion with the exception of some large fallen trees that still need to be removed. Rooftop heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems have been checked out and repairs are being made. The residence halls are open and operating normally.
Hardest hit in Broward was the SeaTech ocean engineering research center in Dania Beach, with damage to the front gates, the testing pool and some pieces of equipment. Fortunately, both research vessels weathered the storm. There was water intrusion at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus, which lost some facing and signage, while the Commercial Boulevard campus lost roofing and signage. In Davie, the damage was minor, primarily affecting vehicles, building windows and ceilings.
Unlike last year, when the northernmost campuses took the brunt of Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, damage from Wilma was relatively minor in Jupiter and on the Treasure Coast, although some buildings lost shingles and light fixtures, and trees went down in both locations. A bit to the south, at Pine Jog Environmental Education Center in West Palm Beach, roofs that were still being repaired after last year’s storms were damaged again.
For updated information on the FAU recovery effort, see the detailed Q&A available at www.fau.edu/recovery05. It offers specific information about efforts that affect the entire University. The Q&A is currently being revised daily.
In his post-Wilma remarks to employees who gathered in the University Center Auditorium on Nov. 1, President Brogan said, "Let's help each other by being patient and flexible. And let’s remember that this weather event, as bad as it’s been, will be history before we know it, but education lasts a lifetime. Let's remain focused on providing that education to our students and community."
FAU's "essential personnel" once again answered the call to duty. Employees in the University Architect's Office, including Facilities Planning, Environmental Health & Safety, Physical Plant, and Space Utilization & Analysis, performed in ways that will make the coming weeks easier for everyone at the University. The FAU Police Department provided security, assistance and guidance to many throughout the storm and its aftermath. And all faculty and staff members are working hard to get FAU back to normal.
images of the damage to FAU facilities can be found here.
Anyone who is still facing personal and/or professional hardship because of Hurricane Wilma should contact University Ombudsman Bobbi Rice at ext. 7-3693. The University may be able to help.
Update is interested in hearing about the kinds of experiences members of the FAU community had during and after the storm. If you would like to share your story, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some of the submissions will be published in future issues.