UPDATE: UMass closes for Irene, reopens

By Herb Scribner

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The University of Massachusetts will shut down from midnight Friday, Aug. 26, to the same time on Sunday, Aug. 28, due to the impending storm caused by Hurricane Irene.

Gov. Deval Patrick declared a state of emergency for the Bay State, following in the footsteps of New York, which is also on Hurricane Irene’s devastating course.

According to an email from UMass Office of Emergency Management, “arrangements have been made to safely house [students] on the lower floors of residence halls.”

Additionally, students that have made arrangements to arrive on campus early have been told to “postpone their travel to campus until further notice, unless they are already en route and unable to return home,” according to the email.

The exact course of Hurricane Irene is undetermined, though western Massachusetts is expected to be hit with anywhere between a Category 1 hurricane or a tropical storm. Because of this, the University advised students to be cautious.

“UMass Amherst is closely monitoring Hurricane Irene to secure the campus and protect the safety of its members,”  said the University website.

Though the campus will be closed, the Campus Center parking garage will remain open for free from 7 a.m. Saturday until the same time on Sunday morning.

For all updates on the area, UMass’ website is continually posting updates as the hurricane nears. The University website suggests students visit both its Facebook and Twitter pages for quick updates.

Hurricane Irene follows in the footsteps of an already damaging summer for the Pioneer Valley, which includes the June 1 tornado, a microburst on July 27 and earthquake rumblings earlier this week.

The tropical storm began in the Caribbean with lower Florida as its initial target. The storm took a turn north and is now heading straight towards major east coast cities, such as New York City and Washington, D.C., which also declared a state of emergency.

Stay with DailyCollegian.com for all updates on the upcoming storm.

UPDATE: Students received e-mails from the office of emergency management on Sunday afternoon, assuring them that the University would open on Monday.

“The UMass Amherst campus is in good condition in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene, and the university will be open Monday, Sept. 29,” said the e-mail.

The schedule for returning students remains the same for the upcoming fall semester.

Herb Scribner can be reached at [email protected]