President's update to parents about Hurricane Florence

September 13, 2018

Dear Parents,

In light of the shifting forecast and possible path of Hurricane Florence, we have canceled classes through Saturday, Sept. 15 along with the football game versus Marshall that was scheduled for Saturday evening. It is important to note that despite the possible course of the hurricane and the potential for severe weather, Columbia remains outside of the evacuation zone and the community is serving as an inland host to those leaving coastal areas. While many students will choose to leave Columbia, I know some will remain. So, I want to reassure you that we are making preparations to safely house and feed students who choose to remain, as well as maintain some campus activities and essential services like the student health center and dining facilities.

If your student chooses to leave Columbia, please ask them to check out with a Resident Mentor if they live on campus. Also, please encourage them to closely monitor local weather forecasts and exercise extreme caution on the roads. Current forecasts indicate that Saturday and Sunday are likely to be the most impactful days for the Midlands area. However, rain is likely to begin before then so students should plan accordingly.

For those choosing to stay, they too should closely monitor local weather forecasts and pay close attention to our Carolina Alert system. If they have not signed up for Carolina Alerts, now is the time to do so. It will notify them via text of severe weather conditions should they develop in the area. Your student can also add you to their Carolina Alert account.

Some areas of Columbia are particularly susceptible to flash flooding during heavy rains. Please help us to reinforce the following with your student: never walk through moving water and do not drive in flooded areas. In order to help prepare for the potential for flooding, we are opening the Blossom, Senate and Bull Street parking garages as well as the metered spaces in the Pendleton parking garage so students can move their cars from surface lots before the rain begins.

Finally, for those students that live off campus and will stay, please encourage them to use the next two days to prepare. Some things they may want to have on-hand include:

  • Non-perishable food and snacks, bottled water, juice and soft drinks

  • Flashlight with batteries

  • Backup battery for cell phones -- make sure it's charged

  • Contacts and eyeglasses

  • Prescription medicines (if there's a power outage, bring medications that require refrigeration to the Center for Health and Well-Being)

  • Cash

  • Legal ID 

We will remain in constant communication with city, county and state officials and put appropriate plans into place.

Decisions for classes next week will be made in coordination with state officials and based on weather conditions. As you know, Governor McMaster has closed schools and state agencies in this county by executive order until further notice. Also, as a state agency, the university follows the delay and closing determinations of Richland County government. University officials will continue to consult with state and local officials and any updates on potential cancellations or closings will be posted on, social media, and Carolina Alert.

We've been through severe weather before. In fact, for those of you who are parents of seniors, this is the fourth fall in a row we've missed class due to severe weather. And it will be the fourth year in a row we bounce right back to ensure a quality semester and safe environment for your student. I thank you for your concern and support in the past and know that working together we will prepare our students for Hurricane Florence as well.

Stay safe Gamecocks!


Harris Pastides

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