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Duke evacuates Beaufort

Gov. Easley declares state of emergency, state of disaster


 In anticipation of the landfall of Hurricane Isabel, the Duke Marine Laboratory in Beaufort, N.C., has canceled classes for the rest of the week and asked students to evacuate by 10 a.m. this morning.


Residential Life and Housing Services Director Eddie Hull said the University will have to temporarily house only about 13 undergraduate students--all of whom attend Duke but are studying at Beaufort this semester--in residence halls. They will stay in Edens Quadrangle, where some rooms are currently unoccupied in anticipation of students returning in the spring from abroad. 

Undergraduates from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Davidson College will be supported by their respective schools, and graduate students, faculty and staff will find their own individual accommodations. Assistant Director of Auxiliary Services Anne Light said the University offered to house Duke graduate students, but they declined. 

The students staying at Duke will have full access to academic and recreational facilities via their DukeCard, will be able to apply their Beaufort meal plan to on-campus eateries and will be given parking access to the Blue Zone. 

The relatively small number of students means a minimal burden on facilities. "We're prepared for them to be here through the weekend, and longer if necessary," Light said.  

The lab's closure comes as Gov. Mike Easley declared North Carolina in a state of emergency. At 11 a.m. Tuesday, a hurricane watch was issued for all coastal counties in the state, and several mainland and island regions have been evacuated. Isabel is currently classified as a Category 2 storm, with winds maxing out at 110 miles per hour. 

Due to the unpredictable nature of hurricanes, it is unknown how hard the storm will hit Durham. In any event, Hull said, University utilities should be in good shape since power lines are buried underground. Structural damage to residence halls from high winds and rain, however, is another matter. 

"In the ice storm, it was a very passive event. To the extent that the limbs got too heavy, they just snapped and fell to the ground," Hull said of the wintry storm that paralyzed much of campus and Durham in the final days of the fall 2002 semester. "The hard thing about hurricanes, the one that distinguishes them, is stationary things pretty much fly. It's reasonable to assume that depending upon how strong the winds are and what things get airborne, any of our facilities are potentially vulnerable to damage." 

He said residence halls on East Campus, West Campus and Central Campus have their advantages and disadvantages for safety, and that his best advice was for students to stay as far from windows as possible. 


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