Posted: November 01, 2011
To my friends and colleagues of the Hampshire College community:
Now that the dust has settled (or, rather, now that the snow is melting), I want to take a moment to thank this amazing community for working tirelessly and creatively, and cooperatively, to manage the crisis we have experienced these past few days. No one I have spoken with has ever experienced a snowstorm this extreme in October. I certainly never imagined the kind of damage such a storm could wreak. We faced a daunting collection of problems Sunday morning - no power, no heat or light, no communications. All of you proved more than equal to the task of dealing with those problems.
My first thanks go to Hampshire's students, who were remarkable in their patience, cooperation, common sense, and good humor. The campus was evacuated without incident on Sunday - many students went home or stayed with friends nearby, and several hundred were sheltered at Mt. Holyoke College through the extraordinary generosity and hospitality of Mt. Holyoke president Lynn Pasquerella and the entire Mt. Holyoke community (a small but delightful example: a number of Mt. Holyoke students went to the field house last night, where Hampshire students have been staying, bringing candy and camaraderie by means of "reverse trick-or-treating").
The members of the emergency response team and their staffs have been working literally around the clock to bring the campus back into full operations. Physical plant workers have been clearing trees and debris, bringing the heating and electrical systems back on-line, evaluating all facilities for safety, and even emptying out refrigerators so that students will return to clean housing. Residence life staff have been staying with students at Mt. Holyoke, communicating with students staying off campus, and keeping spirits up in myriad ways. The campus police have been doing whatever might be needed, from facilitating transportation to liaising with Mt. Holyoke and UMass to secure cots and blankets. Dining services personnel have cleaned out all the perishable foods and re-stocked in preparation for serving a hot meal to returning students this evening. Communications and IT personnel have activated every conceivable means of staying in touch with the community, including the parents of our students, to keep everyone apprised with the latest updates.
For me, as a new member of this community, it has been absolutely wonderful to experience the spirit of shared purpose and the willingness to help out in whatever ways necessary that have characterized our response to this emergency. Hard as this has been for all of us, it makes me even more grateful to be here. Thank you with all my heart.