Editor's note: This story was updated after publishing to include information from Patrick Benner and information about the track of the storm and its effects in Richmond.
All classes and campus events are canceled beginning Thursday, Sept. 13, through Sunday, Sept. 16, according to a university email sent out after noon on Wednesday in anticipation of Hurricane Florence.
Residence halls and the Heilman Dining Center will remain open throughout the weekend, and university staff members are working to make sure campus remains operational for students who stay through the storm, according to the email.
Patrick Benner, director of residence life and undergraduate student housing, said his office would be sending a survey to students asking whether they planned to stay on campus or leave during the storm.
"We are strongly encouraging students to complete this survey in order to track students remaining on campus to be as prepared as possible when/if assistance is needed," Benner stated in an email.
Category-three Hurricane Florence is tracking toward North and South Carolina and is expected to make landfall on the East Coast on Friday as an "extremely dangerous major hurricane," according to the National Hurricane Center.
The Richmond area can expect periods of moderate to heavy rain Thursday through Sunday, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
"The track of the storm presently suggests its greatest impact will be in the Carolinas and places Richmond outside the scope of the storm’s most significant impact," according to the email.
Campus preparations for the storm began yesterday. Facilities workers were working to fill sandbags in preparation for flooding on campus.
“In the event of an emergency, we are ensuring that there is adequate food and water supplies, as well as back-up generators,” Cynthia Price, director of media and public relations, said.
The university canceled all Family Weekend activities, planned for this weekend, out of “an abundance of caution” and concern for the safety of families traveling to the university, according to an email sent to students Tuesday morning.
The first fraternity lodge parties of the year, scheduled for this Friday, have also been canceled, Alison Keller, director of the Center for Student Involvement, said.
The Incident Management Team activated emergency protocol Tuesday morning in anticipation of Hurricane Florence’s effects expected later in the week, Dave McCoy, associate vice president of public safety and chief of University Police stated in an email.
The emergency management director position is currently vacant. URPD members and other members of the IMT are handling the responsibilities of the emergency management director, Price said.
“Our ability to prevent/mitigate, prepare, respond and recover is managed through the Incident Management Team and the Executive Policy Group,” McCoy stated in an email.
The Incident Management Team consists of trained members from sixteen university departments and is responsible for managing response and recovery operations, McCoy stated in the email. The focus of the IMT’s efforts for Florence will be on wellness, housing, electricity and food, McCoy stated in the email.
Virginia Commonwealth University has canceled classes from Thursday, Sept. 13 through Sunday, Sept. 16. Virginia Union University in Richmond canceled classes beginning today at noon until Monday, Sept. 17.
Cal Pringle, Ashlee Korlach and Julia Raimondi contributed reporting.