The Office of Physical Plant has been concerned about Superstorm Sandy for over a week, Paul Ruskin, Office of Physical Plant spokesman said.
“Thanks to the Penn State meteorology department, we had good warning on this and were able to do a lot of pre-event checking,” Ruskin said.
Over the past few days in preparation for the storm, OPP cleared catch basins and drains across campus, crews checked emergency generators and checked supplies of diesel fuel, Ruskin said.
“We are as ready as we think we can be [...] We have done everything to prepare for the event except build an ark,” Ruskin said.
The decision to cancel classes was considered by several different sources and carefully weighed, Ruskin said. OPP and police services provided consultation, but the official decision came from administrators in Old Main, he said.
Classes were canceled as of 1:10 p.m. Monday and will remain canceled until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Ruskin said. The situation will be most likely be re-evaluated on an hourly basis, he said.
As of 1:10 p.m. Monday, OPP has activated the emergency operations center at OPP and sent non-essential employees home, but essential employees remain on the job to keep the university running, Ruskin said.
Essential employees provide services to “ensure student safety and living conditions,” Ruskin said.
Accommodations have been arranged for essential employees who will have to spend extra hours on campus, Ruskin said.
Penn State Dining and Food Services is planning to keep dining halls open for the duration of Superstorm Sandy.
Findlay, Pollock, Redifer, Waring and Warnock commons will remain open, Assistant Vice President for Housing, Food Services and Residence Life Stan Latta said.
Burger King and Panda Express in the HUB-Robeson Center closed at 4 p.m., and Starbucks closed at 5 p.m., Housing and Food Services Residential Dining Director Lisa Wandel said.
Of the dining commons on campus, North Halls is the only one without a back-up generator, Wandel said.
“If, for any reason, the power [in North Halls] went out tomorrow, then we would redirect students to eat at East or West,” Wandel said.
A power outage would affect how the dining commons handle serving food.
“We may adjust the menu. We may only be going to a two-meal service [if there’s a power outage],” Latta said.
In response to Superstorm Sandy, University Park closed its libraries as of 1:30 p.m., according to Penn State Libraries’ website.
In addition to University Park, campus libraries at Abington, Altoona, Brandywine, Berks, Great Valley, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Schuylkill, Wilks-Barre, Worthington-Scranton and York closed for the day Monday, as well, according to the website.
As for Tuesday, the only campus libraries closed as of press time Monday are Altoona, Berks, Great Valley, Harrisburg, Hazleton, Lehigh Valley, Mont Alto and Worthington-Scranton, according to Penn State’s website.
Penn Sate is always prepared for an emergency and has areas that have been pre-designated as emergency event areas, Ruskin said.
Some safety threats are out of OPP’s control, and Ruskin said there is extreme danger for flying debris during the storm.
“Look at every tree as a hazard,” Ruskin said.
Wind danger is very real. Students should travel around campus with extreme caution and be aware of potential tree dangers, Ruskin said. Students should not park cars under trees.
Students should turn to Penn State Live and listen to WPSU for updates, he said.