Editorial: NU, Evanston responded well to ‘Snowpocalypse’

The Daily Northwestern

For the first time in 32 years, Northwestern declared a snow day on Wednesday, canceling classes and closing the University. Mother Nature dumped a near-record 20.2 inches of snow on Evanston, and throughout the treacherous night, the city braved everything from 70-mile-per-hour wind gusts to thundersnow. As students rejoiced over canceled classes and postponed midterms, the NU and Evanston emergency response teams were scrambling to deal with the carnage.

The Daily commends the city and the University for their swift and efficient response to the third-largest snow storm in Chicago history.

We were impressed with the open lines of communication during the storm. The NU administration originally planned to announce their decision about school cancellation early Wednesday, but by 10:40 p.m. Tuesday, students, faculty and staff received mass texts and e-mails about the snow day. We appreciate that officials waited long enough until they were comfortable with their decision, and we were very relieved the University made the announcement earlier, much to the convenience of NU community.

Students were ecstatic at the snow day as evidenced by the proliferation of jubilant Facebook statuses and tweets that flooded the blogospere within a matter of minutes. But besides pleasing students stressed about midterms, the decision made sense for safety reasons. The Evanston roads and campus sidewalks were not ready for mass usage Wednesday morning, and we’re glad the University didn’t try and force them to be.

In addition, as the storm developed, University officials like Dean of Students Burgwell Howard and Assistant Director of University Residential Life Ryan Reinhart sent out repeated e-mails to students with updates about the situation, including closures of University services.

Meanwhile, Evanston officials sent out regular e-mails with comprehensive snow updates, including the closing of Sheridan Road and the opening of parking garages to accommodate roadside vehicles. The city also acted responsibly with its new snow shoveling program for the elderly and the disabled.

Furthermore, the coordination between NU and Evanston about snow plowing deserves praise. Although some parts of Evanston remain a slushy mess, the speed with which the plows cleared the on-campus sidewalks was impressive. By midday Tuesday, students could proceed with caution on campus and into downtown Evanston, and classes can resume Thursday largely because the swift dispatch of plows by the city and by the University.

The Daily thanks the University employees, especially dining hall and Norris employees and University Police, who trekked to school today to try and resume operations as usual. Unfortunately, students must wake up from this wonderful dream and return to class Thursday (and rage in jealousy at their University of Chicago peers who have another snow day). Nevertheless, this quick turnaround would not have been possible without the efficient planning and coordination of leaders.