NICHOLLS STATE UNIVERSITY
HURRICANE EMERGENCY PLAN
The purpose of the Nicholls State University Hurricane Emergency Plan is to provide a detailed summary of the steps deemed necessary to secure the university and protect property and lives in the event of an approaching hurricane.
The plan is available to all university employees and members of the community and can be accessed via the internet on the home page of the Nicholls web site. The plan lists and explains the various levels of preparedness the university will undertake depending on the severity of a weather threat to the Thibodaux area. It also lists action plans for all of the university departments that will be most affected by an approaching storm.
In the event that a tropical system enters the Gulf of Mexico, the university will immediately be placed on standby alert. At this time, interested parties can monitor the Nicholls home page to determine the exact level of preparedness currently underway at the university. There are five phases or levels of preparedness that may be implemented before, during, and after a possible storm. Each is explained in specific detail within the plan.
The coordinated execution of the plan is the responsibility of the university’s Emergency Preparedness Committee (EPC). The plan is reviewed and updated by the committee annually.
Emergency Plan Guidelines:
Standby Alert – When the National Weather Service predicts that a tropical system will enter the Gulf of Mexico, the University Emergency Preparedness Committee will monitor the projected path and speed of the storm and all departments should enact Standby Alert procedures.
Phase I – When a tropical system has entered the Gulf of Mexico or has made landfall on the outer edges of the Gulf and is expected to re-enter the Gulf, and the South Louisiana area is within the probability of landfall zone, the Emergency Preparedness Committee will monitor the speed and path of the storm. The Committee will assess on which side of the storm Thibodaux would be, the distance from the predicted landfall area, and the strength of the storm (present and at landfall). All departments must enact Phase I storm preparations.
Phase II – When a tropical system is within the Gulf of Mexico and South Louisiana is in the landfall zone, although not in the high probability zone, but the area is expected to feel the effects of the storm to where the National Weather Service will issue a Hurricane Watch or Tropical Storm Warning for South Louisiana and the Thibodaux area, university classes will be cancelled. Students are advised to leave campus. The University will open a shelter for students as well as staff who are unable to leave the campus. The EPC will finalize all preparations for the storm. All non-essential personnel will be released from their work stations. The EPC will continue to monitor the strength, speed, and projected landfall site. The EPC will set up operations in the shelter area in the Student Union. All departments must enact Phase II storm preparations.
Phase III – When a tropical system is in the Gulf of Mexico and South Louisiana is in the high probability landfall zone and the National Weather Service issues a Hurricane Warning for South Louisiana that includes the Thibodaux area, university classes will be cancelled. Students are advised to evacuate to an area out of the storm’s path. The EPC will continue to monitor the storms strength, speed, and projected landfall. If a mandatory evacuation order is not given for the Thibodaux area, the University will open a shelter for students as well as staff who are unable to leave the campus. If a mandatory evacuation is given for the Thibodaux area, on-campus residents without a means of transportation will be evacuated to another state university where they will receive pre-arranged shelter and meals for the duration of their stay. The EPC will finalize all preparations for the storm. All non-essential personnel will be released from their work stations. The pre-position team will continue to monitor the storms strength, speed and projected landfall. Based on the above information, the team will make the determination to remain on campus or evacuate to a pre-arranged shelter. The decision to evacuate will be made no later than 18 hours prior to landfall. All departments must enact Phase III storm preparations.
Phase IV – After the storm has passed and provided that the roads are passable and the state and local government officials are allowing travel back into the area, certain employees who are designated to be essential or first responders by their supervisors are required to report to work within 24 hours. Other employees should contact their immediate supervisor, by telephone or e-mail, within 24 hours of the storm passing to secure directions for action. All employees should be prepared to report to work or return the University to operating as soon as possible. Students should monitor designated information outlets for the resumption of classes. Department heads should have a plan to return to work to assess damage, to react to immediate needs, to coordinate scheduling of employees, and to report needs and damages to the Office of Physical Plant.
Phase V – If the storm has passed and has caused major damage on campus, employees must contact their supervisors for direction or contact either the Nicholls Help Line or the Nicholls Web site to let their supervisor know where they are and whether or not they can return to the area. Only the Pre-Position team will return to campus to establish a command center and begin damage assessment. The Pre-Position team will also begin debris clean-up and will take action as needed to protect university assets.
Note: Individual Department plans were not included in this handout. To see this document in its entirety please refer to the Nicholls homepage under “University Status & Emergency Preparedness”.
To Prepare Your Work Area When a Storm Threatens
- Refer to your department’s Hurricane Plan.
- If you have temperature critical materials, contact the Maintenance Department to determine if emergency power is available.
- Secure all critical papers, pictures books, and other loose items in a cabinet, desk or closet.
- Back up computer hard drives. Make two copies. Secure a copy in your office and take the other with you.
- Unplug all electrical equipment.
- Move as much as possible away from windows to an interior area or against an interior wall.
- Raise equipment up off of the floor, if possible.
- Cover with plastic and secure with tape office equipment, scientific instruments, fine art, antiques and computers that cannot be stowed or moved away from windows.
- Close and lock (or secure with tape) all file cabinets.
- Close and lock all windows and doors.
- Cover telephone but do not unplug wire connection.
- Take personal items and backup disks home with you.
- Before leaving, meet with your supervisor to confirm telephone numbers and learn when you are expected to call your supervisor after the storm. Assist other departments as necessary.
Some major changes in the National Weather Service warning procedures have been made.
Most notably, changes include:
- Tropical Storm and Hurricane Watches will now be issued 48 hours in advance of expected storm conditions, as opposed to the previous 36 hours.
- Warnings will now be issued at the 36 hour mark, rather than the previous 24 hour mark.
- The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale will only be used in reference to WIND only. Storm Surge will no longer be referenced to these categories; instead it will be expressed specifically and independently in height.
- Post-Tropical and Extra-Tropical cyclones will be those systems which do not have sufficient tropical characteristics. This does NOT imply that they are any less dangerous, however.
- Advisories issued by the National Hurricane Center will look totally different beginning this year. The new advisories will be divided into five distinct sections containing important information.
- NWS Forecasts will also utilize new terminology in terms of “possible,” “expected”, or ongoing tropical storm and hurricane conditions.
For additional information, refer to the National Weather Service website at https://www.weather.gov/