Environmental Health & Safety

Hurricane Plan

August 2012

Emergency - Call Amherst College Police 

(413) 542-2111 

(Ambulance, Fire, Haz-Mat, Police)






In accordance with the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Administrator (OSHA), the federal government request for All Hazards Plan and the Amherst College Emergency Preparedness Policies and procedures, the college has initiated an information and response plan for Hurricanes.


There are 5 categories of hurricanes. They are characterized by their sustained winds with category 1 being the least severe and category 5 being the most significant:

  • Category 1 - Minimal winds 74 - 95 mph
  • Category 2 - Moderate winds 96 - 110 mph
  • Category 3 - Extensive winds 111 - 130 mph
  • Category 4 - Extreme winds 131 - 155 mph
  • Category 5 - Catastrophic winds > 156 mph

In the mid 1930s New England experienced a category 3 hurricane which recorded winds at 130 mph. 700 were killed, 2,000 were injured, and $400 million in damage occurred.


Hurricane Season- usually from the beginning of June to the end of November

Hurricane Watch- the first notification by the National Weather Service that a hurricane exists. It is normally given 36 hours before the storm is expected to strike the area.

Hurricane Warning- notification by the National Weather Service, normally 24 hours before the storms is expected for the area.

Hurricane Alert- Hurricane force winds are imminent

Hurricane Shelters- Areas of refuge to be used in the event of a hurricane should be a substantial building with limited glass. Basements such as those in the following buildings can be used as emergency shelters during a Hurricane, Tornado or other high wind emergency:
  • Chapin Hall
  • Converse Hall
  • Fayerweather interior corridors of basement
  • Frost Library levels B and C
  • Hitchcock - Basement
  • Mayo-Smith House - Basement
  • Merrill Apartments - Basement
  • Morgan Hall
  • Morrow Dormitory - Basement
  • Newport House - Basement
  • Pratt Dorm - Basement
  • Seelye House - Basement
  • Seelye Mudd - Basement
  • Seligman - Basement
  • Social Dormitories - Basement
    • Coolidge
    • Crossett
    • Davis
    • Pond
    • Stone
  • Webster Hall
  • Williston Hall

Buildings that should not be used as shelters during hurricanes, tornadoes or other high winds include:

  • Alumni gymnasium
  • Arms Music
  • Coolidge Cage
  • Johnson Chapel
  • Octagon

Hurricane Preparedness

We highly recommend assembling a 3 Day Emergency Preparedness Kit, whether at work or at home.

  1. Preparation
    Amherst College has already established an emergency response plan for Hurricanes, Tornadoes and other high wind emergencies. These policies and plans are identified on our Web Page "List of Emergency Preparedness Plans" and are found in detail at Amherst College Facilities and Amherst College Campus Police, both located in the Service Building.
    • Those plans and procedures include an Incident Command System which will be used in our Emergency Operations Center.
    • Amherst College is now capable of notifying students by either email or the newly set up notification system utilizing telephones in each student room
  2. Suspension of Service
    All Instructions such as canceling classes, closing of buildings, releasing of employees, special instructions and the relocation of students will be done by email or phone.
  3. Facility, Staff, Student, and Visitor Action

    • Clear desk tops, tables and other horizontal surfaces of all paper and other articles susceptible to water damage in case windows are broken.
    • Protect books, valuable papers and equipment by covering with plastic sheeting, garbage bags and masking tape available from Facilities Management - otherwise protect by storing inside cabinets, files, or boxes or remove to interior rooms. Departments need to pick up supplies from Facilities Management.
    • If you can, move desks, file cabinets, worktables and bookcases away from windows or open doorways.
    • If windows are open; shut close and latch them.
    • Drop all venetian blinds, close slats and draw curtains.
    • Close and lock all doors.
    • Turn off lights and electrical equipment. Unplugequipment and turn off air conditioners.
    • Backup all individual personal computers, keeping a copy of all files on disk at a location other than Amherst College.
    • Leave campus as soon as possible.

Preparation before Hurricane Strikes

  1. All furniture including beds should be pulled away from the windows. Electronic equipment (TV, stereo,  computer, etc.) should be placed off the floor, preferably in a closet.
  2. Since the floors can get wet, all articles such as shoes, rugs, clothes, bags, suitcases, etc., should be placed on closet shelves or in dresser drawers.
  3. All lose objects should be placed in drawers or closets. Paper, books, etc. should not be left on tops of desk or dressers.
  4. Valuables should be placed in safekeeping. Closets and drawers should be closed throughout the hurricane. All doors should be locked when the occupants are not in the room.
  5. Those students, who reside in facilities that are equipped with bathtubs, are requested to clean the tub and fill it halfway with water. If the hurricane is a major storm, our water supply may be cut off. If this is the case, the water in the tubs will be needed for washing and flushing toilets. Fill several small containers with water for drinking purposes. If more drinking water is needed, it will be available through the staff as soon as possible.
  6. All windows must be closed tightly. All blinds/curtains should be closed.
  7. Any resident who owns a car should see that the emergency brake is set and placed in park. All windows should be closed and the doors locked. All cars must remain in designated parking areas.
  8. Each student should provide his or her own flashlight in case of power failure. Do not use candles or other flame-type lighting under any circumstances, fire is uncontrollable during a hurricane. Use battery powered lighting only!
  9. Residents should provide their own snack items. Dining Services will provide food for the students at the Valentine Hall.
  10. Residents need to notify a member of Public Affairs of their destination prior to leaving campus. This is necessary for accountability reasons.


  1. Verification of appropriate staff (on call) for Emergency Response.
  2. Ensure there is a sufficient amount of plywood and heavy duty plastic.
  3. Make sure all cell phones as well as portable radios are fully charged.
  4. Fueling all vehicles on Campus in advance of the storm.
  5. Ensure all tanks containing diesel and gasoline are filled.
  6. Securing all Construction Projects, ensuring that all possible flying debris is eliminated.
  • Supervisors should evaluate their respective projects and other potential areas or buildings of concern.
  • Grounds should evaluate potential tree issues such as;
    • branches around power lines
    • damaged or weakened limbs (especially in road and sidewalk areas)
All Generators are fueled and tested
  • Portable Generators should also be included in the fueling and testing requirements

Procedures during the Hurricane

  1. It is essential that all remaining residents stay indoors throughout the entire hurricane. During the storm, for maximum protection, residents are to remain in the hallways. If you are not familiar with a hurricane, there is always a lull in the storm when the eye passes through the area. Once the eye passes through, the storm begins again, but from the opposite direction. STAY INDOORS.
  2. Residents must follow the instructions of College Officials, including the Campus Police and/or the Amherst Fire Department.
  3. In the event of power failure during the height of a hurricane, there will be no elevator service. Do not attempt to travel between floors using elevators. 1st Aid and/or food service will be made available whenever the storms passes or power is restored.
  4. Do not attempt to open windows or doors to see what is happening outside.
  5. Report all accidents, injuries, broken windows, or excessive water to the Campus Police or Facilities.
  6. Telephone calls should be made only in case of emergency.

Resumption of Service

  1. Following the lifting of the HURRICANE WARNING status, Facilities and Administrator will determine which buildings and facilities can be used safely for classes and other purposes and will make appropriate recommendations.
  2. The President, upon recommendation from Director of Facilities Planning Management, will issue necessary directives and instructions concerning the resumption of classes and the use of College buildings and facilities.
  3. For additional information, or to acquire Amherst College Environmental, Health and Safety Policies and Procedures go to (https://www.amherst.edu/offices/enviro_health_safety/polpro) or contact the Amherst College Campus Police at 542-2291 or Environmental Health and Safety at 542-8189.