Hurricane Irene evacuation: ‘Biggest Slumber Party Ever’

Hurricane Irene evacuation: ‘Biggest Slumber Party Ever’


With Hurricane Irene on its way up the Eastern Seaboard the last week of August 2011, Wagner College decided that the best way to ensure the safety of its resident students and staff was to evacuate its on-campus residence halls to the Spiro Sports Center gymnasium the night before the storm was expected to hit New York City. Students who were able to go home to ride out the hurricane had been encouraged to do so -- and to take a friend -- leaving only 372 students, a majority of them freshmen, still on campus. There was plenty of water and food, and a Super Slumber Party atmosphere prevailed among the students camped out in the gym. The college's president and provost, Dr. Richard Guarasci and Dr. Lily McNair, spent the night with the students, along with dozens of Public Safety, Residential Life, Health Services and other staff members. The clip above was shot around 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 27, after the students had settled in.


With the strong winds of Hurricane Irene just beginning to sweep across New York City early Sunday morning, the 372 Wagner College students who had been evacuated to the Spiro Sports Center gymnasium were gradually winding down and getting ready to sleep while the storm surged northward toward the Wagner College campus. The video clips here were shot around 1 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 28.


Late Sunday morning, Aug. 28, after Wagner College staff had evaluated various weather forecasts and guidance from New York City officials, President Richard Guarasci and his team sounded the "all clear," ending the evacuation of 372 residence hall students to the Spiro Sports Center gymnasium in the face of the oncoming Hurricane Irene. In this concluding video clip, President Richard Guarasci, Provost Lily McNair and Assistant Director of Residential Education Matthew Hollingshead -- all very tired after staffing the overnight evacuation -- reflect on the weekend's experience.