Dec 10, 2013 | Atlanta, GA
It’s difficult to imagine a snow or ice storm hitting campus, given the warm temperatures we've had lately. But rest assured that if one does, the people responsible for keeping Georgia Tech up and running are ready.
“In years past, we had some ice issues and realized that we didn’t have the right equipment for dealing with it,” said Andy Altizer, director of Emergency Preparedness. “So, Facilities Management purchased salt spreaders and shovels to remedy future problems.”
During the January 2011 winter storm, the difficulty with getting campus up and running had more to do with areas off campus than on.
“A few days after the snow storm, Facilities seemed to have the roads on campus clear, but the surrounding streets were not,” Altizer added.
Here are some of the improvements that have been made since that storm:
- The Institute purchased snow removal blades that could be attached to trucks.
- Ice melt was stockpiled.
- The plan for snow/ice removal was prioritized. Campus roads come first, then sidewalks (initially from the residence halls to the dining halls), then parking lots and then the entrances to buildings.
Whenever a storm is forecast, the Institute also takes proactive measures, such as moving buses to flat ground, so that they won’t have to make the trek up Hemphill Avenue in the snow or ice (the buses are housed off of 14th Street).
Also, critical staff, such as facilities, police and dining hall staff, are brought onto campus before the storm and are housed either on campus or nearby.
As for making the call regarding whether to delay opening or to close for the day, the decision is made before 5 a.m. by a team that includes the president, the executive vice presidents for Academic Affairs and Administration and Finance, the chief of police, Altizer and others.
“We consider a list of criteria such as road conditions in the suburbs, weather forecasts including projected temperatures, whether MARTA is running and what the surrounding universities are doing,” Altizer said. “We all make our recommendations to Dr. Peterson, but ultimately, he makes the call.”
The one thing that Altizer and Steven Swant, executive vice president for Administration and Finance, want everyone to keep in mind if campus does open after a winter storm is their own safety.
“Campus may be open, but we recognize that conditions aren’t uniform across the region. Therefore, we are not asking you to risk your safety if driving conditions in your area are treacherous,” Swant said. “If employees are concerned about their safety, we encourage them to contact their supervisors and identify appropriate alternatives.”
For more information, contact Altizer.