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, students 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.
General Information Concerning Plan Implementation
The university president or his designee, in consultation with the EPC, will determine which phase of the plan is appropriate for activation based upon the anticipated effects of an approaching storm. Once the Hurricane Emergency Plan is activated, students, faculty, staff, and the community at large will be notified of all decisions resulting from a possible hurricane threat, via the Nicholls web site, e-mail, television, radio, text-messaging boards, phone call, text messages or any other communication outlets which are available. Utilization of a multi-communication system will assure that a person with disabilities will receive a timely notification of the event. Nicholls State University utilizes the Everbridge Notification system. All faculty, staff and students are encouraged to remain registered in the notification system. According to the plan, some employees are designated essential by their supervisors and directed to work during an emergency. As a result, required duties may differ from normal responsibilities. Employee positions which are considered essential may be listed in individual departmental emergency plans or an employee may be designated by his or her supervisor in the event of an impending emergency. Communications between EPC members and auxiliary staff who assist with implementation of the plan will be maintained by various means of communication including landlines (home or office), cell phones, or any other means deemed appropriate. Once the plan is activated and until a permanent command post is established, all critical information and command post numbers will be disseminated by University Police via a 24/7 dispatch and/or internet or voice mail.
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. During this alert phase of the emergency guidelines, all departmental directors and department heads shall include in the preparation guidelines those accommodations that persons with disabilities may require. Those accommodations shall be implemented accordingly as the emergency phases are implemented.
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 system to where the National Weather Service might issue a Tropical Storm Warning or a Hurricane Watch for South Louisiana and the Thibodaux area. The EPC will continue to monitor the strength, speed, and projected landfall site. The EPC will set up operations in the President’s Conference Room, Picciola Hall. All departments must enact Phase II storm preparation
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 Tropical Storm Warning for South Louisiana that includes the Thibodaux area, the EPC will make recommendations to the University President regarding scheduled classes. The University President will make the decision to cancel or continue class. If 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 nonessential 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.