UNCW Reminds Students, Employees to Revisit Preparedness Plans as 2020 Hurricane Season Begins; Parents, Public May Now Sign Up to Receive Emergency Alerts

Monday, June 01, 2020

Although the 2020 hurricane season officially starts today, June 1, and continues through Nov. 30, UNCW is committed to year-round preparation for tropical weather systems and other emergencies. In fact, UNCW qualifies as a Disaster-Resistant University and was the first university in North Carolina to receive the StormReady designation by the National Weather Service. As hurricane season begins, UNCW is reminding students, employees, families and the community to revisit their personal preparedness plans – and reiterating the priority that the university places on campus safety before, during and after weather events. 

The university is also announcing that, for the first time, parents and the public will be able to sign up for UNCWAlert notifications via this website. This means that upon registering for this service, users will receive UNCWAlert text messages, phone calls and/or emails when they are issued by the university to all UNCW students and to employees who have opted in for the service. The university is pleased to offer yet another means of connecting parents and the public with the university, particularly in the event of emergency situations. Those interested in ongoing updates during emergency situations should still monitor the university homepage and the university’s Facebook feed; only truly urgent emergency situations, e.g., a tornado warning or active attacker situation, warrant notifications via UNCWAlert. 

Every division of the university is involved, year-round, in preparations for hurricanes and other emergencies, according to Jeff Campbell, director of UNCW Environmental Health & Safety. Specific to hurricanes, each storm is different in severity, rainfall and proximity to the coast,” Campbell said. “UNCW prepares and revises emergency response plans throughout the year, with the safety of our students, faculty and staff always our top priority.” 

New students and their parents learn about the university’s weather preparations during orientations, and other awareness opportunities are available throughout the year via various university channels. The university emphasizes the importance of all students and employees preparing personal response plans and being aware of emergency procedures and the campus communication methods utilized to share emergency information 

The Division of Student Affairs staff revisits its hurricane preparedness plans each spring in preparation for hurricane season, and includes related information on weather-related emergencies during new student orientation each summer and during student meetings with RAs in the residence halls when they arrive on campus in the fall,” said Dean of Students Mike Walker. “Student Affairs also provides direct outreach to off-campus students via PERCH, [programming and support for off-campus, non-traditional and graduate students], in the Office of the Dean of Students.” 

In case of a weather event, or any safety-related emergency in the vicinity of the UNCW main campus or satellite locations, the university may use a variety of communication tools to disseminate emergency information and/or to announce potential impacts on classes, events, or campus access. Students and employees should familiarize themselves with these tools:  

  • The UNCW homepage: This is the official source, along with the university’s social media feeds, of emergency information and messages from the university. Other units on campus may share information posted on the homepage and via feeds. Please be sure you are relying on only official university messaging during emergency situations. 
  • Emails to campus inboxes (students and employees). 
  • UNCWAlert phone calls and/or text messages. Information about the university’s emergency alerts distribution list can be found here; students are automatically included on this distribution list, but faculty and staff must opt in. 
  • UNCW Facebook: The UNCW Facebook page is often the fastest way for students, employees and parents to receive updates, along with campus emails to students and employees. This is because it’s sometimes the fastest communication channel for university officials to update, especially in the event of a widespread weather event.  
  • Hotline: 910.962.3991 or toll-free at 888.657.5751. The hotline is activated only in situations of a full-scale safety or weather emergency. It reflects information already available via the online resources listed above and is meant to serve those who don’t have easy web access. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts 13 to 19 named storms in the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season with the possibility of three to six major hurricanes. (This season started early, with two named storms – Arthur and Bertha – forming in May.) Through a combination of institutional preparation and individual emergency plans, the UNCW community will be ready to face yet another busy Atlantic hurricane season. 

 -- Tricia Vance