Hurricane Irene struck the College campus on the evening of Saturday, August 27, leaving minimal damage in its wake. By the time it hit Maine, Irene had been downgraded to a tropical storm.

According to Associate Director of Facilities Operations Jeff Tuttle, the storm left the College with two fallen trees, only one power outage and no physical or material damage.

Pre-Orientation and Orientation were also unaffected by Tropical Storm Irene.

"The storm seemed to peter out, we did not have the winds that were projected. As it got closer and closer to us, the forecast changed—less rain and wind," said Tuttle. "The wind speeds were not what we were anticipating, which is a good thing."

In anticipation of the storm, Director of Safety and Security Randy Nichols said the campus prepared for worst.

"It didn't happen to the extent that it could have, but we still had to plan to the same extent," said Nichols. "That is invaluable training for our campus emergency management team and overall campus emergency preparedness."

Associate Director of Safety & Security Carol McAllister said, "Not only did we plan and train and exercise in the scope of the College, as the scenario dictates, we also pulled in members of the local community [for] their impact and feedback."

Nichols and McAllister said they worked closely with Brunswick Police Captain Mark Waltz and Topsham Fire Chief Ken Brillant, along with local emergency managers and the Maine Emergency Management Agency (MEMA).

"The College here can be considered a resource to the local community and we can also rely on the local community as a resource to us. It's a real partnership," said McAllister.

In preparation for Irene, Tuttle said Facilities tested their critical generators, particularly in Hubbard and Thorne, placed sandbags in low-lying areas like lower Moulton Union, chained or moved outdoor picnic tables, and prepared portable water pumps in case of an emergency.

Bowdoin's coastal properties were also prepared for the storm. Boats and a portion of the dock were pulled in from the Bethel Point Sailing Center and a research boat was pulled in from the Coastal Studies Center.

Tuttle said his "number one concern was the safety of students."

According to Tuttle, Facilities management had 16 additional people remain on campus to help along with the usual weekend staff. Nichols said that IT was also available for overnight support. The campus provided housing in local hotels for the additional staff members who do not live in close proximity to the campus.

The storm first hit campus Saturday evening and continued into late the following day.

Tuttle said the only significant power outage was in Howell. A transformer blew, leaving residents without power for about an hour in the dorm. He attributed a falling power line to the power outage. Within an hour, Facilities provided Howell House with a portable generator.

Aside from Howell House and "a few flickers and brownouts," the College experienced no major loss of power, according to Tuttle.

Perhaps the most noticeable sign of Irene's impact was a large tree branch that fell down on the Quad that Sunday afternoon.

Tuttle said the tree "looked like it had some internal rotting" that heightened its susceptibility to the storm.

President Barry Mills wrote in an email to the Orient that he happened to be on the quad at the time of the falling branch.

"I walked onto campus just near the museum and heard a loud roar. I thought it was thunder and then this very large branch that was most of a tree crashed down. A number of students in the first year bricks heard the crash and came out to check it out. Excellent timing on my part," wrote Mills.

Maya Rieselbach '15 was also on the quad at the time of the crash. "I wasn't expecting it at all because it wasn't that windy out. It just kind of creaked and fell. Later I thought that it could've been really bad," she said.

One tree also fell on Longfellow Avenue and another one on Federal Street.

McAllister said she believed the campus response to Tropical Storm Irene "went very smoothly" due to preparedness, training and meetings with the Campus Emergency Management Team (CEMT).

Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Katy Longley chairs the CEMT, which met prior to the storm for contingency and logistical planning.

"Every time you have an event, be it weather-related or another type of event, it gives you an opportunity to improve, so the next time you do an even better job," said Longley. "You can't plan every detail and you have to be flexible."

Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs Scott Hood wrote in an email to the Orient that the CEMT meeting allowed the College to think carefully about what we would do to make sure everyone was safe and to maintain critical College operations during and immediately after the storm."

In order to easily alert the campus community on storm developments, Hood and the College set up a website on the Bowdoin homepage, to publish critical updates.

"We did this a couple of years ago with swine flu (and before that with avian flu), and both worked well and efficiently to provide up-to-the minute information to the Bowdoin community," wrote Hood. "This is important because, generally, people react well in emergencies if they have accurate and current information."

The College promoted the website through email and social media. Hood wrote that parents positively responded to the website.

Nichols said that a "thorough debriefing" of the Campus's response to Irene is planned for October.