Hurricane Storm Sandy is expected to wreak havoc on the East Coast this week with sheets of rain, high winds and heavy snow slated to impact one third of the country, including University students partaking in programs in coastal areas.
Officials have warned millions of residents living in communities in the storm’s path to evacuate, and various businesses and public transit systems have been closed, including some subway routes in New York City. Several universities have also closed their campuses due to the storm, including Georgetown University, Boston University, New York University and Princeton University, while many others have canceled Monday classes.
Of the 19 University of Michigan students in Washington, D.C. as part of the Michigan in Washington Program — a program that allows students to complete an internship in D.C. while receiving University credit — many will not be going to work Monday due to the storm.
University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the MIW participants will find solace in their housing facility, which is staffed 24-hours a day to ensure protection of its residents.
“All (19) students are living in a solid building in D.C. that has weathered many storms there without even losing power,” Fitzgerald said. “We are confident the U-M students in Washington are in a safe place.”
While the University keeps tabs on students studying or working abroad through a travel registry, Fitzgerald noted that domestic travel is more difficult to track.
However, he said the media frenzy that has surrounded the arrival of the hurricane should be effective in keeping traveling students and faculty informed of the dangers of the inclement weather.
“The good thing in this situation is that this storm has been getting lots of media attention, so any groups traveling to the East Coast certainly are aware of the storm and able to make informed decisions about their travel,” Fitzgerald said.
LSA senior Alicia Tirpak, a MIW participant, said she was notified to stay home from her internship at the U.S. State Department, since all federal offices would be closed on Monday.
She said she will likely stay inside but is worried she may need to leave at some point for amenities she didn’t have time to gather prior to the warnings.
“I intended to get food before, but apparently the grocery store nearby is out of food and water that you would want if the power went out. I just thought it wasn’t worth the time to go so I really don’t have that much food,” Tirpak said.
Tirpak said she is also concerned about renovations occurring near her part of the building, which may make it particularly vulnerable to high wind.
“I am actually a little bit concerned (because) there is construction next to us,” Tirpak said. “It makes me nervous that it might get loose or something through or something since it is at out room’s level.”
LSA senior Elana Firsht, fellow MIW participant, said she also plans to stay inside until the storm passes, noting that her office at the Brookings Institution, an independent policy research firm, is closed Monday.
“I don’t think it’s a very good idea to go outside right now,” Firsht said.
Two members of the University’s Debate Team, LSA junior Kevin Hirn and LSA senior Kyle Deming, have been at a competition at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., since Friday.
The team was scheduled to leave Monday evening, but they learned Sunday they would be stranded in the Boston area until Tuesday afternoon. As of Sunday, the team’s flight has been rescheduled twice, first for Tuesday morning and then for Tuesday afternoon. Aaron Kall, the director of the debate program, said debaters had to extend their rental car and hotel reservations through Tuesday.
“We’re cautiously optimistic and planning for a Tuesday departure,” Kall said.
Kall said the team’s remaining debate against Michigan State University scheduled for Monday is still set to occur as of Sunday. The team is scheduled to host its 17th annual high-school debate tournament Friday, an event which is expected to attract more than 700 high-school students, debate coaches and judges from around the country.
Kall said he is somewhat concerned that traveling teams, as well as the Harvard debaters, may miss the tournament, but he has taken comfort in the fact that the trajectory of the storm is not expected to directly hit Boston.
“There’s certainly a chance the competition could be postponed tomorrow, but the hotel hasn’t lost power or anything,” Hall said.
The Michigan women’s golf team is in Kiawah Island, S.C., for the Edwin Watts Palmetto Intercollegiate competition. Though South Carolina is south of the storm, travel from states throughout the East Coast has been affected.
However, Athletic Department spokesman Tom Wywrot said the team’s non-stop, commercial flight is departing as scheduled, as far as officials are aware.
Story updated: This story has been updated to reflect an updated headcount of MIW participants, as two returned to D.C. Monday night.
Correction appended: A previous version of this article misidentified the class standing of LSA senior Ilana Firsht.