With Ike looming in the distance, the university prepared for the coming danger. Through the KatSafe alert system, e-mails were sent out to students to inform them that the university was to be closed Friday, September 12, and then for the upcoming week.
The KatSafe system was effective and served its purpose in delivering messages to students.
Of all the alerts sent out, “eighty percent of the contact numbers listed had a successful delivery,” said Chief Kevin Morris of the University Police Department. At this point there are around eighteen thousand students currently signed up for the program.
If students have provided a phone number to the university, then it was automatically uploaded into the system along with the students’ university e-mail address. If students do not want to be a part of the program, they must go to the website and opt out, but it is encouraged that all students sign up for the program so they can be promptly informed of emergency situations.
“I think the e-mail was effective; it got its point across,” said senior Travis Meyer. “The only way it could have been improved is if text messages were sent out as well, because not everyone [got] the e-mail on time.”
The only problems the KatSafe system encountered were if power was out or cell phone towers were down, which caused students to be unable to receive the alerts.
Along with the KatSafe system, the University Police department took other measures to ensure the safety of the students. The police department initiated a curfew of 8 p.m.-8 a.m.
“Since there were a number of people in the area and due to the power outages, it provided an environment that could lead to issues regarding criminal activity,” said Chief Morris.
The curfew helped cut down the crime in the area, although there were a few reports concerning burglarized vehicles in one of the campus parking lots. “The curfew allowed officers latitude to provide for a safer campus environment during a critical time period.”
With the curfew in place and many students evacuated, UPD helped make Huntsville a safer place. Ike really tested the university’s safety systems and police department, and proved that the campus was well prepared.