By Becca Clemons
Many students might not know exactly what to do when a natural disaster occurs while they’re away from home. But when a threat to safety is imminent, UK attempts to alert its community as soon as possible.
UK sent several email and text message notifications to those signed up for its alerts Friday when a tornado warning was issued for Lexington. The alerts notified that campus was closing and included weather forecasts.
UK Alerts arrive over email within a matter of minutes, UK spokesman Jay Blanton said, and phone alerts are even faster.
UK President Eli Capilouto made the decision to cancel classes after 3 p.m. Friday, Blanton said. That was so students could return to their houses, apartments or residence halls to prepare for potentially severe weather.
Although most buildings on campus have severe weather shelters, those are not necessarily designated spots for people to go if they have advance notice of an emergency.
“We want people to leave” campus, Blanton said.
He said UK officials, including Residence Life staff, kept in constant communication and received procedures Thursday.
However, those who are still on campus when severe weather hits are directed to The Commons on South Campus or to nearby residence halls.
Dorm staff are advised to let people inside and encourage anyone outside to come in.
“Hall directors and resident advisers train repeatedly to know what to do in critical weather,” Blanton said.
Lexington’s Landlord Tenant Act does not say landlords or property managers are required to provide plans or information to tenants for emergency situations.
Lexington government officials could not find a city ordinance requiring that, either.
However, many of the larger complexes near campus with multiple floors have ways of notifying residents about severe weather events.
Royal Lexington posted tornado advisories to its residents’ doors and posted a notice on its Facebook page, property manager Amanda Poole said. And when tenants came to turn in rent last week, she asked if they knew how to handle themselves in an emergency situation.
Others, like Red Mile Village, offered its clubhouse to residents who live on second and third floors, said property manager Cassandra Arnold.
Management there also sent text message and email blasts, posted on the Red Mile Village Facebook page and advised residents to go to the innermost area of their apartments.
Representatives for corporate owners of Newtown Crossing and The Lex did not return calls as of press time.
Newtown Crossing, however, sent its residents an email Friday, which included a safety guide for tornadoes.
In the aftermath of a storm that caused significant damage, on-campus facilities such as Memorial Coliseum, Alumni Gym, The Commons or other athletic facilities would serve as shelters, Blanton said.