Posted by Mary Wimberley on 2004-09-20

Samford University weathered Hurricane Ivan last week with no major damage, but experienced inconvenience from a campus-wide power outage that lasted more than a day. Classes and other normal operations resumed Monday.

Officials estimated that about 700 students, out of Samford's total enrollment of 4,397, remained on campus during the weather event. Students were encouraged to stay inside as the hurricane pushed through the Birmingham area on Thursday afternoon. Residence life, campus dining and campus safety employees stayed on campus throughout the storm and weekend to provide for students who remained.

The campus lost power mid-morning on Thursday when service was interrupted at an Alabama Power Company substation that serves Samford and neighboring Homewood residents. The outage knocked out telephone service to and from campus and disrupted Website access. Power was restored to the campus at about 6:30 p.m. on Friday.

During the power outage, a generator provided electricity to Beeson University Center, which houses the main dining hall and kitchen. Food was available continuously, and movies were shown in a room near the cafeteria.

On Friday, students found creative ways to pass the time. Some caught up on their sleep while others took advantage of the electricity in the student center to read and work on their laptop computers.

Facility services employees were on campus throughout the weekend and began assessing potential damage even as the storm began to subside. Much of the storm debris had been cleared by Sunday.

"We have a fair number of roof leaks and a few trees down, but no major buildings were damaged," said Joseph W. "Bill" Mathews, Samford vice president for business affairs.

Flooding occurred in the basements of three buildings, a situation remedied with the use of a gas-powered sump pump. Roof shingles were reported missing from several buildings, including Ingalls Hall, which houses McWhorter School of Pharmacy.

"Overall, we came out very well," Mathews said on Monday. "We will now look at things we expect to hear about as people get back into their offices."

WVSU-FM, which broadcasts from Samford, was off the air from Thursday until mid-day Monday due to a power outage at the station's transmitter site on Shades Mountain.

According to Samford athletic director Robert L. "Bob" Roller, the worst damage to athletic facilities occurred on the soccer field, where fencing was pushed over by strong water from Shades Creek. The field, located on a flood plane across the street from the campus, is designed to be flooded and to drain quickly. Soccer team members helped to clean up the field on Saturday and later held a practice.

Samford's intramural fields, located near the soccer field, also were affected by flood waters from Shades Creek.

Samford officials had announced on Wednesday that classes would be cancelled on Thursday and Friday. A long-planned Preview Day for high school seniors on Saturday was cancelled, along with all other organizational and athletic events. Samford football had an open date on Sept. 18.

The next Preview Day is scheduled for Oct. 16.


Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.