As a medical school located in the Caribbean, American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) has faced hurricanes and other tropical-related weather events in the past. Knowing how serious these events can be, we maintain a comprehensive Hurricane Response Plan with protocols established to help with campus safety before, during, and after a weather-related event. AUC regularly reviews its Hurricane Response Plan and updated the most recent version in May 2019.
This webpage and other hurricane preparedness materials have been developed to keep AUC students and the campus community informed and aware of weather-related activities. In the event of a hurricane or other emergency, AUC will update the Weather Alerts page (see below) with official university announcements.
Hurricane season begins every year on June 1 and runs through November 30. In the Caribbean, storm activity is busiest between the months of August and October.
The National Hurricane Center uses the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale to categorize developing storms. The scale uses a 1 to 5 wind rating (5 being the most catastrophic of hurricanes) to measure the potential danger and damage of a storm. A storm's category can change quickly based on its forecasted maximum sustained winds.
- Tropical depression: up to 38 mph
- Tropical storm: 39–73 mph
- Category 1: 74 – 95 mph
- Category 2: 96 – 100 mph
- Category 3: 111 – 130 mph
- Category 4: 131 – 155 mph
- Category 5: over 155 mph
AUC's Hurricane Response Plan
In the event of an approaching storm, AUC’s incident command team will work closely with the administration and local emergency officials to activate the university's Hurricane Response Plan. This plan, updated in 2019, provides a framework for how AUC will manage an emergency in a way that prioritizes the campus community’s safety and security.
Taking into consideration the storm’s strength and projected path, AUC will decide whether to cancel classes and open the university as a shelter. Our goal is to make this decision in a timely manner so that students and community members have the time they need to prepare for a storm. While students are not required to shelter on campus, they are strongly encouraged to do so.
AUC will send out regular communications to keep students informed of weather events, campus closures, and safety-related information. Official updates will be posted here on the AUC website, Facebook and Twitter, and sent to students’ AUC email address.
In the event of an emergency, AUC will send out a series of alerts via our SIREN warning system. Messages will be delivered by text, phone call, and email. In order to receive messages, please keep your contact information up to date in your Student Portal account settings: https://my.aucmed.edu.
Sheltering on Campus
In the event of a hurricane, Building 2 will become the university’s designated shelter for students, staff, faculty, and family members. Building 2 was constructed in 2014 and engineered to withstand a Category 5 hurricane. All windows within Building 2 are outfitted with laminated glass that is designed to withstand the impacts of a Category 5 hurricane. Through the shelter, AUC will have basic staples, including food, water, and limited medical supplies.
>> Shelter Check-in Process
Before arriving to campus, make sure that your home has been secured and any vehicle(s) are filled with gas. Check our list of pre-arrival tasks to make sure that your home is prepared for an approaching storm. Once you are packed and set, report directly to the Building 2 Auditorium to sign in.
AUC will keep Building 2 open until winds reach 40 mph or another time designated by the university. Once the shelter closes, you will be required to stay inside and expected to abide by our policies and procedures. Should you choose to, you will have the opportunity to volunteer on a response team.
>> What to Bring
If you shelter on campus, please keep in mind that storage space will be limited. We ask that individuals limit their belongings to one regular-sized piece of luggage. We have prepared a printable checklist that includes required and suggested items to bring with you to campus (scroll below). As a reminder, alcohol is strictly forbidden on campus.
Sheltering at Home
If you decide not to shelter with AUC, you will need to prepare your home well in advance of a storm. Please be aware that AUC and local emergency services may not be able to respond to you during the storm and you will be responsible for your own safety. Leading up to a storm, continue to monitor your email address and the AUC website for timely alerts and emergency information. After the storm passes, and so long as roads are manageable, make your way back to campus to check-in.
In advance of a tropical storm or hurricane, you will need to prepare a hurricane kit with essential supplies and personal items. This kit will allow you to be ready should you need to evacuate to a shelter or in the event that you lose power or communication. We recommend packing these items into a regular sized suitcase so that you can move quickly if necessary.
Pet Safety During a Hurricane
Hurricanes can be unpredictable but planning and preparing for one is in your control. For pet owners, that means knowing how you are going to take care of your pet during a storm and having supplies and travel documents ready at a moment’s notice. To help you plan, we have compiled some tips to help prepare your furry friends.
Before a storm develops, stock up on supplies that will keep you and your pet safe and comfortable for up to five days. We recommend packing a large bag that you can easily grab should you need to leave your home and shelter with AUC.
Contacting AUC about a Student's Safety
In that past, AUC has operated a hurricane hotline for family and loved ones with questions about the university's status and response plan. If the hotline is opened, we will release the phone number and call center hours on this page.
AUC also monitors messages to our AUC News email account ([email protected]) and our Facebook page and Twitter feed. While we may not be able to respond to every inquiry, we will do our best to answer your questions and provide you with the most up-to-date information.
Other Important Resources
St. Maarten Flood Zones
The gulf coast and shore lines of Sint Maarten are prone to storm surges and flooding. Tropical storms and strong rains can have a severe impact on the following waterfront and low-lying areas. If you live in these communities, please make your way to campus ahead of an approaching storm.
Philipsburg (along the boardwalk)
St. Maarten News Media
Campus community members are encouraged to follow local news for weather-related updates and information.
Laser 101's Storm Watch Team (101.1 FM)
Voice of Sint Maarten (1300 AM or 102.7 FM)
Caribbean Radio International (93.3 FM)
Weather Monitoring Services
Follow developing storms and monitor weather conditions using these agency and organization websites:
Hurricane Preparedness Resources
Update your hurricane preparedness kit with tips and information from these agencies and organizations: