Hurricane Irma Recovery

Hurricane Irma 2017

Dear FIU family,

Even though this has been an exhausting couple of days, and even though the storm we have endured is one of the worst that Florida has experienced, you all must understand that we have survived one of Florida’s most devastating storms with limited damages. Compared to nearby communities and neighborhoods throughout the state, we are relieved and in many ways enabled to help as much as possible.

No doubt, significant advance preparation, and a spirit of cooperation, collaboration and patience have enabled an incredible team effort by members of our community. I want to thank you for all this.  Even more important, I want to thank you in advance for your patience and willingness to adapt in what may be a situation of extreme difficulty for friends, loved ones and neighbors.

In these first moments following the storm as we focus on recovery, please remember that unnecessary accidents and personal harm occur in the effort to secure your property. We want you and your families intact and moving forward once we resume operations.

It is likely that many members of the university community, friends, family and neighbors were severely impacted by this storm. If you are able to help, please look for opportunities to make a difference in our community.

Now that the worst of Hurricane Irma has moved past South Florida, FIU has started to assess the damage. Here is the current situation at MMC:

  • Almost 5,000 cars owned by students, neighbors, and friends are parked in MMC garages for safekeeping. The cars appear to be intact and the garages are accessible for vehicle removal as soon as curfew and road conditions allow. Please beware of standing water, and other road hazards.
  • The university remains closed and classes – including online classes – are still canceled until further notice. Students, faculty and staff will receive ample notice to make their way back to campus. Take this time to recover, address any damages to dwellings and premises, and help your loved ones and friends to get back on track.

Preliminary assessment

There is significant damage to MMC landscaping, including some toppled trees.  (We will do our best to replant trees, some of which I know are cherished by many of us.)  A preliminary assessment indicates minor flooding, downed light posts and signs. There are reports of leaks and water intrusion in several buildings.

Because the Biscayne Bay Campus is in an evacuation zone, we are just now reviewing the situation there. At this point, we have not identified significant damage.  Likewise, assessments will need to be conducted at FIU Downtown on Brickell, The Wolfsonian-FIU, The Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, FIU@I-75, Aquarius and the Engineering Center.

Recovery process

A group of FIU administrators and staff stayed on campus during the storm. They deserve our thanks and appreciation for their willingness to be on site and available. They have started the recovery process that will encompass three major areas:

Facilities

Every building on every campus, center and museum will need to be inspected and urgent or safety issues addressed before the campus can reopen. Returning students who sheltered at Parkview to their on-campus suites is a top priority, as is opening the Green Library, where our students can get back to their studies. Assuming no hidden damages, we expect to open our libraries as soon as possible and certainly before classes resume.

Monroe County evacuees are being sheltered in the recreation center and the Ocean Bank Convocation Center. Because it is unclear the extent of damage the Florida Keys have sustained, it is impossible to say when those buildings will be returned to normal operations. Please understand that we and now others see our campus as a sanctuary. Please give our visitors your respect and support.

Power and technology

The technology infrastructure fared very well, thanks to excellent planning and active management through the storm. Systems that were brought down for the storm are being restored. However, several campus buildings do not have power at this time.

Students, faculty and staff

Many members of the university community wisely left town ahead of Hurricane Irma’s arrival. Others, unfortunately may have to deal with significant personal challenges and loss. Please know that it will take some time to bring the campus back to normal operations.

All employees should make every effort to contact their supervisor and let them know they are ok. Essential staff should report to work as soon as conditions allow it.

Non-essential staff will be called back to work a day or two before classes resume.

Please look for updates as more information becomes available. Updates will be sent through:

I have often said that we are blessed with a meaningful and purposeful life. This storm gives us an opportunity to pause, take stock and rededicate ourselves to the cause of hope and opportunity that our university provides.

Sincerely,

Mark B. Rosenberg

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