Temple was in the clear to start the fall semester yesterday, but not all made it to campus.
Moving up the Eastern Seaboard over the weekend, Hurricane Irene hit Philadelphia, leaving some without power and others with property damages.
While Main Campus and its surrounding neighborhoods were seemingly spared any major damages from the category one hurricane, flooding in areas such as Manayunk and dismembered trees were just some of the signs throughout the city left by the hurricane.
Anthony Wagner, executive vice president, chief financial officer and treasurer said between 10 and 12 Main Campus buildings experienced minor leaks, including the Student Center, White Hall and Paley Library.
Wagner said the university prepared buildings by cleaning roof drains and tying down loose objects, to prepare for the would-be 70 mph winds.
“We had coverage in all the buildings, so, essentially, we were able to intervene as soon as something happened to make sure that a little problem didn’t turn into a big one,” Wagner said.
In addition to the minor leaks, a few insulation panels on the north side of Pearson and McGonigle halls, currently under renovation, were torn off during the storm, Wagner said, noting that replacing them will be a minor issue.
Wagner said that, if any, the financial loss is very minimal.
Preparations for the hurricane began early last week, Wagner said. Roughly 300 employees were around campus to keep an eye on the buildings, he said, as well as workers from Sodexo and AlliedBarton Security Services.
Back-up generators, fuel, non-perishable foods and water were among the supplies on hand for the storm, Wagner said.
“We sort of plan for the worst and hope for the best,” Wagner said.
More severe damages elsewhere in the city included power outages in Northeast Philadelphia and flooding in Manayunk.
While some SEPTA operations were running Sunday afternoon, other forms of public transportation were subject to delays and detours. As of Monday morning, the Regional Rail’s Cynwyd, Paoli/Thorndale, Manayunk/Norristown and Trenton lines were still suspended due to flooding and other conditions.
The Manayunk/Norristown line was restored Monday afternoon.
Public transportation was considered in the decision to go forward with starting the semester, made Sunday, Wagner said.
Mayor Michael Nutter’s discontinuing of the city’s state of emergency, the resumption of some SEPTA operations and the knowledge that Main Campus was in “good shape,” were among the factors used in the decision, Wagner said.
“With all of those facts, we made the decision that, even though we knew that there would be some employees and students that would face some inconvenience because of power or travel-related difficulties, that it made sense to go ahead and have normal operations,” Wagner said.
Still, some students and faculty found trouble getting to campus for the first day of the semester.
Michael Miscewitz, a junior education major, said he commutes via the West Trenton line, which ran 30 minutes late yesterday, making him late for class.
Wagner said about 200 students of the approximate 5,000 that live on campus hadn’t moved in as of Monday morning, some of which were likely “no-show” students, who decided not to come for reasons unrelated to the hurricane.
Zbigniew Kopytnik, father of sophomore Natalia Kopytnik, a sophomore history major, said his daughter had to miss her first two classes of the semester in order to move into the 1300 residence hall yesterday.
“We didn’t want to venture to get stuck on the roads on Saturday, and definitely not on Sunday,” Zbigniew Kopytnik said.
Likewise, some professors had to cancel classes because of travel difficulties.
Traveling to Philadelphia from Puerto Rico, Sandra Suarez, an associate professor of political science, said she had to call off classes because her Sunday flight had been canceled.
At press time, Suarez was unsure of the day she would be able to get a flight back to the city.
Angelo Fichera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.