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Is Your Campus Prepared to Lend Assistance After a Disaster?

Alyssa Keehan, Esq.
April 2021

Why Read This

College and university resources — including housing and dining facilities, large open areas for temporary shelters and staging activities, and information technology (IT) infrastructure and computers — are in high demand following disasters. But few higher education emergency management plans include policies or procedures to guide them in giving access to facilities after catastrophic incidents.

In 2020, there were 230 presidentially declared emergencies and major disasters — nearly double the previous high of 128 declarations (2011). And for the first time in its history, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) responded to simultaneous disasters in Washington, D.C., five territories, and all 50 states. Some educational institutions were also called on to help their local communities respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As part of an emergency response or disaster relief effort, anticipate that your institution will be called upon to respond even if your campus hasn’t been directly affected.

Key Takeaways

  • It’s important to conduct an all-hazards analysis so you can identify natural or human-made hazards that previously affected your area or may affect it in the future.
  • Help your planning by partnering with local and state personnel responsible for emergency management planning as well as local agencies that support disaster relief efforts.
  • Assess how much hardware you can make available without significantly hindering your institution’s academic mission; also consider your broadband capacity and the number of phone circuits your campus has, as well as how additional usage will affect your network.

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