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Tornado causes massive damage to Mount Carmel campus

Tornado causes massive damage to Mount Carmel campus

By: Cali Kees 

Following the wake of the tornado that caused severe destruction to the trees in the pine grove, quad and other areas on Quinnipiac’s Mount Carmel campus, Mount Carmel was closed Wednesday and Thursday.

Tuesday night after the storm, QU News updated students on the situation at the university, saying there were no injuries that had been reported and facilities workers were assessing the damage and working on removing the downed trees and debris.

Wednesday, a QU Alert was sent to students saying that the Mount Carmel campus would be closed, however, the planned Senior Week activities would continue.  Shortly after the alert, QU News notified students that the University closing was due to the tree damage from Tuesday’s storm.

Today, the Mount Carmel campus was closed again. But Mount Carmel was not the only campus to experience damages from Tuesday’s storm.

“There are trees on all three campuses that are down, our facilities crew have been working diligently since Tuesday night to remove a lot of the debris that is on all three campuses,” Associate Vice President for Public Relations and Public Affairs John Morgan said.

Mount Carmel did, however, receive significant tree damage and because of this Morgan believes the clean up will be a long process.

An area on campus that received significant damage was the pine grove, a wooded area that serves as a pathway to and from the College of Arts and Sciences.

Joe Iasso, senior, who was on campus at the time said, “a tornado ripped through it, half the trees are gone.”

Wednesday night, the National Weather Service confirmed that an EF1 tornado with estimated peak winds of 110 mph moved along a path of 9½ miles between Beacon Falls and Hamden.

This was one of four confirmed tornados that touched down in Connecticut on Tuesday.

Many students, including Iasso, were saddened to see the destruction of the pine grove and other areas at Quinnipiac.

“To me, it was the most beautiful part of all three of our campuses, walking through it always brightened my day,” Iasso said. “I hope to see those trees replaced with a sturdier evergreen that will still bring the magic our “forbidden forest” did.”

Many other areas around the Mount Carmel campus received significant damage. Large branches fell on the quad and between the Arnold Bernhard library and the Dana English residence hall, including several large downed trees.

A tree that sits between the Dana English and Irmagarde residence halls was uprooted and fell onto Irma. A large tree near the Hill residence hall snapped at the trunk and fell. A tree also fell onto the Commons bridge as well. Lastly, on the side of the Mountain View residence hall adjacent to Bobcat Way, many smaller trees were uprooted.

Athletic equipment was also damaged in the storm, including the fence outlining the tennis court and batting cages.

Despite the widespread damage, Morgan is optimistic and content with the work the facilities team has done so far.

“I think those of us that were here Tuesday night and those of us who are here today are very impressed with the amount of progress they’ve made,” Morgan said.

When asked about what the future holds for the pine grove and other areas of campus that were more “wooded,” Morgan said that it is still too early to tell.

“We’re still trying to clean all the debris that’s there,” Morgan said. “The Mount Carmel campus has been closed the last couple of days, the intent right now is to get it into shape so we can reopen it.”

While the main goal right now is to reopen the Mount Carmel campus, the university is aware how close freshmen orientation is and acknowledges the draw the look of the campus is to many students who decide to come to Quinnipiac.

“We feel the look of our campus is what draws many of our students to come in addition to our high-quality academic programs. But, our facilities here are top-notch and we believe that it plays a major role in students deciding to come here,” Morgan said.

With this being said, the University is working hard to combat the damage of the storm to make the campus look both the way it did when these students committed and the way it has for orientations in the past.

Morgan thinks the most impressive thing he has seen in the aftermath of the tornado is the coming together of Quinnipiac faculty and staff to make sure the everything continues to run smoothly.

“I think what you’re finding here is there is a tremendous story of wanting to move forward,” Morgan said.

Making sure that both the remaining commencement ceremonies and senior week continue as planned this weekend, the facilities team has been working since Tuesday night to repair the damage.

The emergency management team has also been meeting continuously throughout the last couple of days to make sure that everything possible is being done to keep the university running.

“We’re moving forward and we’re not going to let anything upend that,” Morgan said.

Tonight, QU News alerted students that there are crews that are currently working to reopen Mount Carmel Avenue.  It also said that if Mount Carmel does reopen, it would reopen and operate on its regular schedule Friday, May 18.

This morning, QU News sent students an email saying that the Mount Carmel campus would reopen on Friday, May 18 but those who are traveling to campus should be aware of road closures.

The part of New Road that starts at the Peter C. Hereld House and ends at the Albert Schweitzer Institute will remain closed.

Mount Carmel Ave. is open from Whitney Ave. to the Hartford Turnpike. The part of Hogan Road that extends from the intersection with Mount Carmel Ave. to the driveway of the Alumni House is also and will be open.

The map of roads that will be open and the ones that will be closed provided by QU News.

Updated 4:44 p.m. May 18th, 2018. This article will be updated as new information is released.

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