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Hurricane Irene flooding complicates first day of classes

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Following Hurricane Irene West Windsor Township was in a state of emergency Sunday August 28 through Wednesday August 31.  That weekend was also the fist week of classes for Mercer’s Fall 2011 Term.  While classes were cancelled on Saturday, August 27 and Sunday August 28, Mercer reopened Monday.

“Every class is important,” said President Donahue, who made the final call on opening the West Windsor campus. The campus was deemed safe for students, however, security did issue an MAlert broadcast message which read: “Delayed/Cancelled classes designate someone to collect attendance roster.  Stay for next class!  Faculty will address classes missed/delayed based on storm issues.”

While the administration was ready for the new term to begin, West Windsor police were more hesitant to allow drivers on the road.

“What we had was pretty much every road that bordered a pond, a stream, or the Millstone River was impassible Monday, as well as the Delaware-Raritan canal,” said West Windsor Chief of Police Joe Pica.  “That included Alexander Road near the Delaware-Raritan canal, Alexander Road at Little Bearbrook, Clarcksville Road at Groversmill Pond, Lower Fisher Place, Meadow Road, Rabbit Hill Road, South Field Road, Washington Road, and Lower Harrison road.”

“There’s a lot of other roads, but those are the main through-fares that were flooded,” said Pica, noting that the above list did not include smaller roads and neighborhoods roads that had been affected by the storm.

“The college where its located was in a pretty dry area, there was no problems with flooding in that area,” said Pica.  Mercer itself had no problems with flooding, and President Donohue reported that the “West parking lot was full,” with students who had made it to campus.

However, “people come from all over the county to get to the school,” said Pica.  Many Mercer students from surrounding towns including Hightstown, Lawrenceville, and Trenton were unable to make it to class on Monday as a result of road closures and unworking traffic lights.

“I live 15 minutes away, but it took me an hour and a half [to get to school]” said Alyssa Downey, a first year Liberal Arts major.  The Trenton resident said that both Route 1 and 239 were shut down.  Both roads are major access roads to Mercer.  “They should have canceled classes.” said Downey.

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