UH Not a Hurrican Shelter

June 25, 2007
As you know, the University of Houston has taken a number of steps to ensure the safety of the faculty, staff and students and the physical security of this campus during a severe weather emergency, such as a hurricane.

If circumstances warrant, the president of the university (or a designee) can close the university.

Should this occur, it is important to note that the University of Houston is not prepared or authorized to serve as a shelter for the public nor for the campus community in general.

We lack personnel training and adequate facilities to serve as a general shelter. Food, water and provisions have not been arranged, and we are not staffed to provide first aid or medical treatment on that scale. No accommodations have been made to handle the elderly, children, pets and special needs individuals. Only a few of our buildings are sufficiently “hardened” to withstand hurricane winds.

Faculty and staff members should not assume that they can decide whether to remain in their offices after the campus has been closed for a severe weather emergency. This is not a matter of personal choice. Remaining in your office (or any other room) puts you at risk and could endanger emergency personnel who may have to rescue or assist you. Or you could be injured or trapped and no assistance is forthcoming because no one was aware of your presence. For your own safety – and the safety of others – do not attempt to remain on campus once it has been closed.

In some situations, student residents may be asked to shelter in place. And essential emergency response personnel (a “ride-out team”) will remain on campus throughout the crisis. But no other employees, students or members of the public should be anywhere on campus. Attempting to remain on campus under such conditions is unsafe, and it is against the university’s emergency management policy.

Please check with your supervisor if you are unclear whether you are considered emergency response personnel.

Although the university isn’t authorized to serve as a shelter, we are certainly concerned with the welfare of our campus community during a hurricane. We want to encourage you to make appropriate plans should a severe weather emergency arise. Information about preparing your own residences, evacuating the area or locating hurricane shelters can be found at:

David Irvin
Associate Vice President for Plant Operations
Chairman of the Emergency Management Committee