East Carolina University is located just miles from the Atlantic coast along the Tar River in Greenville, North Carolina. The university supports nearly 29,000 students and reported an economic impact of $2.8 billion on the state’s economy in the 2012-2013 fiscal year. The institution strives to develop service-oriented and innovative students that will be prepared to change their communities for the better. ECU searched for a readiness solution that would help the university to be the most prepared in the face of an emergency.
ECU is vulnerable to a number of natural disasters. Due to the institution’s geographic placement, tropical storms, hurricanes and flooding pose a major threat to the university. A planning tool was needed to merge the ideas of seasoned faculty and management to formulate the best plans possible to be ready for any disaster.
In October 2016, ECU was hit by Hurricane Matthew. The university prepared by stocking supplies, organizing ongoing discussions with the National Weather Service, and encouraging staff to review their continuity plans. At the time, 83 percent of departments had completed their continuity plans.
The hurricane caused a number of continuity events at the institution: the storm itself, subsequent flooding, and limited access to campus. While power outages did not affect campus, ECU lost 40-70 trees, experienced a breached floodgate, and was forced to limit access to campus during flooding and clean-up. It took the university approximately two weeks to recover and relocate displaced students. However, because of the university’s thorough planning through the Kuali Ready solution, faculty were prepared to respond. They were aware of their responsibilities and knew when and to whom they should report even when power outages prevented access to continuity plans. ECU’s experience with Hurricane Matthew displayed that planning is perhaps the most important part of resiliency in the face of an emergency.