Monster storm Sandy creates challenges for boarding schools in Northeast

By Amy Makechnie

For the Deseret News

Published: Monday, Oct. 29 2012 6:08 p.m. MDT

"Emergency Operating Management is actually a part of Homeland Security … Boarding schools can't just shut down, lock the doors and send everyone home. We're scurrying around and dividing responsibilities so we can support each other."

Dining staff for the school will likely work through the night to cook meals for emergency crews, as well as the school's student and adult population. "We're trying to respond in the way that a business would," John Ferris says. "But it's tricky, because Proctor isn't a business; it's a school. We still have to operate as normal – serve meals, have study halls and in-dorm times. Dorm parents don't leave. They stay put, acting en loco parentis." Same goes for the maintenance and housekeeping staffs. While some members of the staff have been sent home, a critical group remains on campus to monitor heating, plumbing, and window damage — just like homeowners.

The real concern, Ferris says, is the wind. If a tree falls through a power line, the power is out. As of 5 p.m. there were more than 100,000 people in New Hampshire without power. That kind of outage can create havoc within a school community. Proctor is as prepared as it can be. "We have back-up generators for essential buildings, emergency lights in all the facilities. We've turned on our biomass heat and energy plant a few days earlier than usual so it could be running through the storm to act as a back-up generator."

Proctor Academy hunkers down, preparing for the worst and hoping they're prepared for a swirling hurricane named Sandy.

Amy Makechnie is a freelance writer from New Hampshire. She is the author of the blog maisymak.blogspot.com.

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