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Tropical Storm Irene hit College Hill more with a whimper than a bang Aug. 28, with the limited damage cleaned up by the time first-years arrived for Orientation Saturday.

According to Marisa Quinn, vice president for public affairs and University relations, the storm's effect on campus was mostly limited to damage to trees. Campus was littered with downed leaves and tree branches, which the Department of Facilities Management "began addressing as soon as it was safe to do so," she said.  

By Saturday,  most of the fallen trees and leaves that had littered campus had been removed. The City of Providence has been working since the arrival of the storm to clean up city streets, removing trees from roads and placing them on sidewalks for later pickup.

For many Rhode Islanders, Irene's most lasting effect has been the power outages left in its wake. Roughly 325,000 Rhode Islanders were left without electricity, according to a press release issued by National Grid. The utility announced that it hoped to have all power restored to its Rhode Island customers by Sunday night, but as of press time a map on its website still displayed a small number of power outages in the Providence area. The outages have delayed the start of the school year in some Rhode Island communities.

According to Quinn, a few buildings on campus lost power, prompting emergency generators to kick in. She said many members of the Brown community also lost power and water in their homes. The University opened its facilities, including the Olney Margolies Athletic Center, to affected members of the Brown community in response to the outages, Quinn said.  

Irene adversely impacted some campus programs, like Brown Outdoor Leadership Training's planned hiking trip in New Hampshire's White Mountains. Though the trip was planned to begin Monday, Aug. 29, the departure was initially delayed until the following day. But because parts of the White Mountain trails remained closed that Tuesday, the group stayed on campus an additional day. BOLT participants left Brown last Wednesday and hiked along the Appalachian Trail in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts instead of the White Mountains. Participants spent two nights in the wild — two fewer than originally planned.

Despite the changes to the BOLT schedule, Max Song '14, a participant, called the experience "fantastic."

"It opened my eyes to the sterility of the human-centric world we normally inhabit," Song said.

Christopher Piette '14, a resident of Greenville, R.I., said the storm was "really hyped up."  

"Power went out for half a day, which is inconvenient at most," he said.

Jing Wang '15 of Cranston said people in some areas of her city experienced power outages, downed trees and some basement flooding.  

Governor Lincoln Chafee '75 P'14 announced Saturday that he would ask President Obama to declare Rhode Island a disaster area because "the cost of the response effort, such as personnel overtime and other emergency services, is beyond the state and local recovery capabilities," according to a press release issued by the Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency. The president has since followed through on Chafee's request. The state is now eligible for a 75 percent reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for approved recovery costs such as debris removal and repair of public facilities.


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