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Penn’s Crisis Management Team featured in USA TODAY education edition

Vice President Maureen Rush of Public Safety is quoted in the October 31, 2012, article in USA Today’s education edition, speaking about Penn’s Crisis Management Team’s response to Hurricane Sandy.

Schools took emergency precautions as Hurricane Sandy struck

By Jordan Friedman

Hurricane Sandy, boasting maximum winds of 90 mph, has caused at least 55 deaths and an estimated $20 billion in damages, USA TODAY reported Wednesday morning.

As Sandy made its way along the East Coast Monday, mass transit closed and governors declared states of emergency, issuing mandatory evacuations for several coastal areas.

The storm left more than 8 million without power. Streets flooded as emergency workers rescued and assisted residents of affected communities.

And at the same time, colleges and universities made the safety of their students and faculty a top priority.

Schools close as hurricane approaches

Colleges across the Northeast canceled classes and on-campus events and activities Monday, and some schools remained closed for part or all of Tuesday. Other colleges in areas facing greater damage — including New York and New Jersey — will remain closed until later this week or through the weekend.

“Providing this information now, we hope, will allow all members of our community to plan ahead and, in some cases at least, to relocate to more comfortable environs,” New York University President John Sexton said in a statement regarding the decision to close the school until next Monday. “For those who remain, we will continue to do all we can to ease the days ahead.”

At American University in Washington, D.C., the Emergency Response Team came to a decision to close the school for Monday and Tuesday after evaluating the condition of the campus and public transportation in the area as well as the predicted impact of the storm, Maralee Csellar, the school’s associate director for media relations, wrote in an email on behalf of the Emergency Response Team.

In staying up-to-date on the storm’s path, American University’s Emergency Response Team consulted satellite imagery as well as local weather forecasts and emergency management officials.

Likewise, the Crisis Management Team at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia has met several times since Friday to discuss the storm and its potential consequences, said Maureen Rush, the school’s vice president for public safety.

“Weather reports were pretty conclusive that this was not going to be a good storm,” Rush said, adding that the team made the decision Saturday to close the school on Monday and Tuesday. “We didn’t want to have to make decisions last minute; we wanted to be out there and be proactive.”