The Weather Forecast and the Human Forecast

Things continue to hop here on campus in regard to Hurricane Florence. Every day we have a Crisis Management Meeting at 3 pm (and there are numerous other meetings during the day on hurricane-related stuff). Trying to keep you all as up to date as I can.

In case somehow the message rolled to spam, want to let you know that we sent parents and families an email around 11:00 am and another one after 1:00 pm. We also have a message that was sent out to students who live off campus.

We’ve been trying to respond to questions and concerns you have as quickly as possible. I have tried for a couple of days to respond personally and I finally had to admit defeat today and own up to the fact that I get messages faster than I can answer them, so I am having to triage whether and how I answer. Let me just say, I HATE NOT REPLYING. But that is where we are and ask your patience and understanding that my normal responsiveness can’t stand. If you have something truly urgent, pls say Urgent in your subject line so it is easy for me to see.

One question I have gotten from a few of you since our 1 pm communication is why did we decide to cancel classes Friday? I want to make sure that you all know this decision does not indicate an elevated risk for your students who are here on campus (or off campus). My best sense of this decision, in talking to those who were in the room when it happened, (that’s for my Hamilton fans) is that this came from paying attention to what I call the Human Forecast, not the Weather Forecast. While Wake’s largest constituency is its students, we have an awful lot of faculty, staff and administrators who work here. Many of our folks here:

Have family who live by the coast and need help evacuating/need a place to stay. I ran into one friend on campus who will be housing several unanticipated family members and pets and has to plan for food, etc. for them; other colleagues tell similar stories.

Have elderly relatives nearby who need help in planning how to stay safe at home (or have to be moved).

Have young kids. The local K-12 schools just cancelled for tomorrow and Friday. Daycares and aftercares will follow suit. I’m lucky in that Class of ’27 Deac could stay home alone now, but younger kids cannot. Or they have older kids at other colleges closer to the hurricane’s path who need to be brought back home.

Live outside of Winston-Salem ‘out in the county’ (as we like to say in the South) or live several counties over and commute in. As you get farther out in the county, you have different levels of service (good example: snow plowing is different in the city limits vs. out in the county) so there may be commuting issues, power failures, etc.

Need time to make any preparations they need for their own family. Whether that is shopping for food or bringing things in from the deck in case the wind blows, or whatever.

All of these factors, and some I am probably forgetting because things are moving too fast, helped lead us to the decision to close on Friday. Wake is helping take care of all of its community members in this way – and I applaud them for that. This is really a reflection of the way we look at Thrive as a holistic way of wellbeing – this is occupational wellbeing at its best. Thank you, team!

When I was still able to respond to all individual emails I was getting, I told a few of you that I was a sophomore here in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit. My recollection of that event runs something like this: it was rainy and windy, but not so much so that I was worried about it. Mostly I was frustrated that one of my dear friends, with whom I had a standing ‘exercise walk and then breakfast’ date, still wanted to go walking that morning. I recall saying something like ‘You can go out if you like. I am going to stay in my room and eat Fruit Loops. You are welcome to join me.” I feel like we bundled up later to go to the Pit, and it was both a little exciting to have a storm (and also a little irksome). I feel certain there were hurricane parties somewhere on campus 😉

I don’t have a crystal ball and obviously can’t predict what will happen, but so far the intel that our experts have gotten has been good and I feel comfortable with what we are doing. I hope you will too.




Categories: campus lifethe daily deac

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