Are You DePaul Ready?
September 13, 2010
September is National Preparedness Month, and DePaul is eager to familiarize students, faculty and staff with steps they can take at DePaul and home to be ready for any emergency. For those who recall DePaul’s previous experiences with the unexpected, the “DePaul Ready” campaign is a welcome reminder of the importance of emergency planning.
1992 Chicago Flood
“There was a lot of confusion,” Diana White, assistant dean for the College of Law, says of the flood, which caused $1 billion of damage downtown and decimated three basement levels of the Lewis Building , one of many downtown buildings inundated by Chicago River water after a breach in the city’s abandoned underground tunnel system. “A guy from maintenance borrowed our phone to call the basement. You could hear the guys down there screaming, because they were trying to hold the river back behind a door while they shut off the power.
“There was really no type of evacuation plan,” White says. “We raced down the stairs, and everything was dark. As we walked out, you could see the Loop shutting down, building by building.
“This was long before anyone was talking about emergency preparedness,” she adds.
The campus was completely shut down for a week before classes resumed (in a temporary building near the Willis Tower), and a full year before White moved back into her original office.
When Com Ed infrastructure problems caused sudden blackouts throughout the South Loop in 1992 and 1999, DePaul staged rare evacuations.
Are you prepared for a disaster to strike? If you’re like 80% of Americans, the answer is no.
The Office of Risk Management offers these important tips for home preparedness:
• Voice networks can become congested, so if a disaster happens, try to contact others first via text message.
• Your family may not be able to get back together -- how will you contact one another or reconnect? It’s important to plan in advance.
• Your home disaster kit should be stocked with supplies to last a MINIMUM of 72 hours, and should include items like bottled water (one gallon per person daily for three days), first aid kit and medications, and a whistle to signal for help.
“The thought of having a flashlight in your desk was remote back then,” says Gerry Timm, Executive Secretary to the Chancellor, says of the 1992 blackout that affected the Loop Campus where she worked. “Fr. Richardson led us down the dark stairway from the 13th floor. We weren’t in real danger, but if there hadn’t been people paying attention, the situation could have been bad.”
Today, DePaul has a robust Emergency Preparedness Plan, which can be found at emergencyplan.depaul.edu.
"We want students and staff to know that DePaul is ready,” notes Ed Gregory from DePaul’s Office of Risk Management. “However, we also want them to know that they need to be ready, starting at home, for a flood, fire, tornado or any other event.”
Gregory also suggests the Safe America Foundation website as a resource to prepare for emergencies at home and work.
“We were always blessed with great security at DePaul,” Timm says, “but we’re much more prepared today.”
White agrees, adding, “With the websites, the DPU Alerts, more evacuation maps posted and better fire alarms and announcements, the university has been pretty darn good in the last 15 years.”
See some DePaul survivor stories and learn what you can do to be prepared.