Ross University Blog

ALERTS: Campus Status, Weather Updates and More

September 17, 2017

First evacuees now on St. Lucia, Evacuations continue today

Published: 9/23/17 at 9:30 a.m.

We’re pleased to report more progress from Dominica and look forward to continued evacuations. We expect to use four boats throughout the day and move more than 450 students, faculty, and staff, and their families and pets today. All of them will travel to St. Lucia for a short stay to receive lodging, food, medical and veterinary care, then will take a charter flight to southern Florida. From the US mainland, they can depart by commercial flights to their chosen destination.

We are grateful that yesterday the US military provided helicopter evacuation to a number of members of the RUSM community. The helicopters landed at the Campus to evacuate those Americans in need of more urgent medical attention. We are told that more evacuations from Dominica can occur by US military helicopter and plane, but this group will be dropped off at Martinique or another Caribbean island instead. All RUSM medical students, faculty, and staff can choose to use today’s military departure. However, we strongly encourage our RUSM group to continue to evacuate Dominica using our boats, since we are not able to support further transport to the US from Martinique. All RUSM community members have been made aware of this large distinction between drop off points.

These last few days have seen accelerating progress in the RUSM community regaining control of their lives. We are in now in contact with over 1,200 students and faculty. Only a handful have yet to check in with us as our evacuation proceeds.

Again, thank you for your continued patience, support and good wishes.

First Ross Med Evacuees Are in St. Lucia

Published: 9/22/17 at 9:50 p.m.

Thirty Ross Med evacuees have arrived to St. Lucia. The additional boats that departed today are expected over the next few hours. Evacuations will resume tomorrow, including the cruise ship that holds more than 300 passengers.


US Military Join Our Evacuation Efforts

Published: 9/22/17 at 8:12 p.m.

The US military has arrived to campus to provide support to our boat evacuations to St. Lucia. We are continuing our evacuation as planned, including the transport of students and colleagues who are non-US citizens and those with pets.


Boat Evacuations Continue

Published: 9/22/17 at 5:42 p.m.

The boat evacuations are underway and more than 200 students and colleagues are en route to St. Lucia. The boats that left this morning are expected to return for additional evacuations tomorrow. Throughout the weekend, multiple boat evacuations will be coordinated daily. We are grateful to the Ross Med community for their remarkable patience, courage and strength under extraordinary circumstances.


Dramamine Available for Passengers

Published: 9/22/17 at 3:11 p.m.

We have received word from our evacuation boats that the ocean water is still rough as a result of Hurricane Maria. We anticipated this might be the case and have taken precautions, including providing all passengers with Dramamine and working with our captains to travel at a slower speed to limit the discomfort as much as possible. We’re committed to communicating once we know the boats have arrived safely, and our Ross family continues to pray for a safe evacuation for all.


First Boat Evacuations Confirmed, More Students, Faculty, and Colleagues Checked-In to Campus

Published: 9/22/17 at 12:50 p.m.

We have confirmed the first boats have left Dominica this morning at 10:30 a.m. ET to evacuate the first group of more than 140 students and colleagues. Depending on sea conditions, the trip is expected to take between five to eight hours to arrive at St. Lucia as a stopover departure point to the US mainland.

A cruise ship that accommodates 305 passengers is scheduled to arrive in Dominica and board more of our evacuees later this evening. We will confirm today once the ship has left Dominica. Ground transportation, lodging in St. Lucia, and flight arrangements to South Florida have been arranged.

Please know we have a team in St. Lucia who will be able to assist students and colleagues in making contact with their loved ones as they reach the island. We will also provide additional information on timing of evacuation to Florida. Flights are planned to begin tomorrow, Saturday, Sept. 23.

The US Department of State also announced evacuations for Americans and service animals. However, in order to ensure the evacuation of our Ross community members as quickly and safely as possible we are continuing with our own evacuation plans that will provide adequate capacity for all Ross community members who wish to leave the island to be evacuated in the next several days. We continue to share and coordinate our evacuation plans with the US Department of State.

Another campus-wide check-in and meeting was conducted yesterday that resulted in additional registration of our students and colleagues. We continue the rigorous verification process and subsequent alerts to listed emergency contacts. We underscore our commitment to confirming the status of all students, faculty, and colleagues and are for now focused on their safety while evacuating all who choose to leave.

More updates will follow as we make progress.


Additional Students Confirmed and Evacuation Arrangements In Place

Read additional FAQs for more information

 

Published: 9/21/17 at 10:30 p.m.

Campus administration is tirelessly working to account for our students and colleagues. Since our update this afternoon, we have now confirmed an additional 150 members of our community, bringing the total to 1150. Efforts continue by our team to reach all parts of the island where our students and faculty reside to confirm all are safe.

Meanwhile, we are in position to begin the first round of evacuations tomorrow. The boats that have been provisioned from neighboring islands are in position to depart from Dominica tomorrow. If the boat captains deem the seas navigable, at least one cohort that is comprised of members of our community with children and those who need special attention will be transported to St. Lucia.

We will provide updates about the status of the evacuation as it progresses.

Please see the additional FAQs below for more information.

 

FAQs

 

Where on mainland do you plan to take the students?
From St. Lucia, students and colleagues will be transported via a chartered plane to South Florida.


Will Ross pay for the expenses to return students home?

Ross will make the travel arrangements and pay the incidental expenses for students to travel to their home from South Florida.


Is there enough food? Three days ago you stated you only had a three-day supply.

A boat with food, supplies, additional communications equipment and personnel arrived to campus today that should last through the evacuation.


Why did you not evacuate today?

The sea conditions were extremely difficult and deemed too risky by boat captains to begin safely evacuating people.


Where are all these students sleeping? Have they been able to shower?

Many Ross students are staying on campus. Water is being conserved for consumption.


Is it safe for students to leave campus, particularly if there are signs of desperation and people seeking food, water, and shelter throughout the island?

Professional security personnel arrived on campus today and more are expected tonight. The campus security team are patrolling the campus and nearby surroundings to create a security perimeter. There is a 4 p.m. government-issued curfew to which students and colleagues are strongly encouraged to adhere.


More Students Confirmed, Some Conditions Improved

Published: 9/21/17 at 2:30 p.m.

Our update for this morning is one of continued but slow improvement on island. We are now able to confirm the safety of more than 1,000 Ross Med students, and active outreach is underway to confirm the safety of those who have not yet checked in with campus. Road conditions are slightly better and allow for increased access to residential areas further away from campus today. In addition to the campus leadership who have been conducting this in-person outreach, we are also bringing a team of security professionals to the island who will notably increase those outreach efforts today.

Progress is also being made in terms of communication with those on Dominica, as some Ham radio and cell service is now supplementing our satellite phones, and our efforts are underway to reestablish internet service, as well.

The campus remains adequately supplied with food, water and power.

Evacuation efforts continue to be challenged by rough seas and uncertain conditions of the ports. We have a number of boats headed toward Dominica to be in position for possible evacuation tomorrow or as soon as possible thereafter. Even when conditions allow, it will take several days and several rounds of these boat trips to provide transport for all students and faculty who wish to leave Dominica. We will not stop the evacuation efforts until everyone who wants and needs to leave the island is taken care of. We will prioritize evacuation so that children and anyone needing special attention are on the first boats out.

The airport, which is very small and unable to accommodate a typical commercial aircraft at any time, remains damaged and closed.

All evacuees will be brought to St. Lucia overnight and as soon as possible thereafter will be flown to the US mainland, with the goal to then provide them each with a flight home from there. We are finalizing details for that process and will share them when they are in place.

Our teams both on island and on the mainland remain firmly dedicated to the safety of all those in the Ross Med family on Dominica and will keep you updated as the situation progresses.


Progress Confirming Students’ Safety and Coordinating Evacuation Plans

Published: 9/20/17 at 8:56 p.m.

Active efforts continue to make contact with all of our students, faculty and colleagues along with their families on Dominica, who are located in a number of places around the island. We can report that more than 1,400 students and faculty have signed our registration sheet. Each hour, we are in contact with Ross faculty on the ground who are providing us with verbal confirmation of each person on the list. Thus far, we’ve reached out to the parents and other emergency contacts of more than 700 Ross students to confirm that their student has checked in with us and is safe. This confirmation process is a lengthy and diligent one, and we greatly appreciate the patience of our Ross community. The process moves forward each hour, but it is taking some time to receive verbal confirmation on each individual because satellite phone reception is weak and connectivity is inconsistent.

Today has been a day of progress in setting in motion our evacuation plan, which is scheduled to begin tomorrow, if weather permits, with several boats moving the first group to St. Lucia. Plans are in place for those boats to make multiple trips over the next few days, until all of our people who want to leave the island are evacuated. We also continue to explore other means to accelerate the evacuation with additional resources. We are dedicated to the safe evacuation of our students and faculty, and confirm we have water, food and miscellaneous supplies available on the Ross campus.

When people arrive in St. Lucia we will provide them with overnight accommodations and then a charter flight to the mainland.

We would like to extend our sincere thanks to all of our students, faculty, colleagues and their families for their patience in this very challenging circumstance. We will continue to provide updates as the situation continues to evolve.


Boat Evacuations Expected Thursday Through the Weekend

Published: 9/20/17 at 11 a.m.

We have set a plan in place to begin a series of boat evacuations of the Ross Med community, to take them to safety on the island of St. Lucia. We are working with a charter boat company to utilize a number of vessels to get our people to a location of greater safety and comfort. As you can imagine, the harbors on Dominica suffered damage in the hurricane and there is much debris in the water. The first step today is for a “scout boat” from the charter company to find the best location to access our people. Meanwhile, the boats are being staffed with crew and stocked with medical supplies and other supplies where they are docked on nearby islands and those boats will begin their journey to Dominica today.

Our crisis team continues to be in communication with the US State Department, but as of now, moving forward with our evacuation plan is our best choice.

We plan to begin the transport of people with taking care of the children and elderly first. Each family will be permitted to have one parent travel with their children. We will also certainly transport anyone with any serious injuries in this first group, although we are grateful to report at this time that we have few reports of injuries, and those are said to be somewhat minor.

We have a team dedicated to determining next steps once we get all of our people to St. Lucia and we will provide more details soon regarding how long they will be there and what plans are for the continuation of classes.

Please know we are still reaching out to the emergency contacts identified by our students and colleagues. Please remain patient as we are trying to make calls as quickly as possible. Our hotline remains open at 1-800-488-8790. You may receive a recording due to the extremely high volume of inbound calls. Please leave a message and a contact number and we will return your call.


Please Read Important FAQs

Published: 9/20/17 at 5:38 a.m.
 

Any updates on the status of my loved one? What are we going to do if my loved one is not on the list?
We are working to account for every member of our community.  From the attendance at the 3 p.m. check-in, we believe that nearly all students are accounted for.  Once we have confirmed their names and student ID numbers, we will contact each student’s emergency contact using the number recorded at their check-in a few weeks ago.  Several dozen people are working through the night to complete this task and calls will be made to emergency contacts as soon as we positively confirm your loved ones status.    
 
Do you have an update on the environment?
There is extensive damage to Dominica from Hurricane Maria including property, vehicles, trees, power lines, and communication channels. Today we received reports of strong wind gusts despite the passage of the hurricane. We have not received any reports of serious flooding where our campus is located and of common areas where our students and colleagues reside.
 
How are you receiving updates?
Members of our staff, faculty, and security team have satellite phones but the transmission and reception has been unpredictable because of the weather. The communications that have taken place are very short in an effort to conserve the battery power of the satellite phones, and have focused on the needs and well-being of the students, faculty, and staff.  
 
What is the frequency of updates that parents can expect?
We will communicate via social media and the Ross website with greater frequency as the communication channels improve. Our updates may simply be, “There are no new developments to report at this time.” 
 
Is there food and water available on campus?
There is food and water on campus that is able to sustain the community for the coming days. We are working to transport food and supplies to the campus as soon as conditions permit. This is expected to be this Thursday.
 
Are local grocery stores open and stocked?
We are unable to confirm the status of local commerce. Therefore, we cannot rely on local sources for food or supplies while Dominica is still recovering from the significant damage of the hurricane.
 
Are the airports open? What is the potential evacuation plan?
The airports are not available at this time. Therefore, we are working on an alternative plan to evacuate your loved ones. Our target is to begin evacuations this weekend.
 
Are there any government or relief agencies aiding in the recovery or rescue of our students?
There are multiple agencies aware of the situation of our campus community including the US Department of State and Canadian authorities.  We are working proactively to arrange for the safe evacuation of our campus community, but welcome external assistance.
 
How many on your staff are available to support students?
Many of our faculty and staff are recovering from the effects of the storm with impractical and unsafe road conditions. Our security team, physicians, and other emergency service personnel are mobilizing to the campus. We have additional security personnel and Ross staff on route to Dominica to be on campus by Thursday.  They will remain there as we finalize plans to evacuate the students.


Working to Determine the Status of Students and Colleagues

Published: 9/19/17 at 5 p.m.

We are relentlessly working to determine the status of our Ross community members and will provide the needed updates as they are obtained and the situation unfolds.

Although Hurricane Maria passed over Dominica several hours ago, strong wind gusts are reported on the ground that may have deterred students from traveling to this afternoon’s 3PM roll call. Therefore, we anticipate that it may take some time for students to make their way back to Campus. We are working on this diligently and greatly appreciate your patience as we aim to very carefully account for our Ross community.

Meanwhile, know that the U.S. Department of State and Canadian authorities are aware of the situation on island.


We Are Working Aggressively to Assess the Situation

Published: 9/19/17 at 9:39 a.m.

Hurricane Maria has passed Dominica and there is a widespread loss of communication on the island.

We are working aggressively through various options to get information and assess the situation. As we know more, we will provide updates.

Our hotline remains open at 1-800-488-8790. With the volume of calls coming in you may have to leave a message, but our team is committed to returning your call.


A 24-hour Hotline is Available for Questions

Published: 9/18/17 at 11:37 p.m.

As the eye of Hurricane Maria moves across Dominica this evening and throughout the night, our thoughts and heartfelt prayers are with our students and colleagues.

For those who have questions related to the storm’s impact on our community, please call our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-488-8790.

In the event of complete loss of internet and cell phone signals, tomorrow Ross will conduct a roll call at the St. James Center. Roll call is scheduled for 3 p.m., conditional upon confirmation that the storm has passed.

Our next update will be provided after the storm passes and we can assess the situation.


Hurricane Warning Issued for Dominica

Campus is Closed Monday, Sept. 18

 
Published: 9/17/17 at 11 p.m.

A Hurricane Warning for Dominica has been issued as Hurricane Maria is gaining strength in the Atlantic and is making its way toward the Leeward Islands. Forecasts indicate that Maria will upgrade to a category 2 hurricane and is expected to reach Dominica Monday night.
 
The campus in Dominica is closed Monday, Sept. 18. Campus status for the remainder of the week will be confirmed in a later notification.
 
Ross urges students and colleagues to make storm preparations now, including planning for power outages. Get guidance on how to prepare for the storm on the university portal and take heed to the list of essentials  (e.g., extra supply of food, water, etc.) to help stay safe during and after a major storm.
 
The Ross campus community will continue to be updated via email and SIREN, the university's emergency alert system. Students and colleagues should make sure their emergency contact information is updated. The campus status and other university announcements will continue to be posted on the website, Facebook and Twitter.
 
Stay informed by following the progression of the storm at the National Hurricane Center. Ross will continue to closely monitor weather conditions. Our thoughts are with you.

 

Tags: Weather

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