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Boston Weather: 40.0°F | A Few Clouds

Gloria closes institute

MIT closed Friday when Hurricane Gloria's 130 mile per hour winds whipped across much of the east coast and central Massachusetts.

The storm will cost the Institute an estimated $40,000, which includes Physical Plant workers' overtime, said Paul F. Barrett, director of Physical Plant.

The hurricane formed over two weeks ago off the African coast. New England meteorologists said property damage was less substantial than it could have been, because the hurricane hit the east coast during low tide.

Damage at MIT was minimal considering the strength of the storm, Barrett said. "We were fortunate."

The damage to the Institute included broken windows in Buildings 5, N52, 20, the Sloan Laboratory, the Whitaker Building, the Green Building, the Hayden Memorial Library and MacGregor House, Barrett said.

The MIT Press, the Center for Advanced Visual Studies and Building W59 lost power, and four garage lights will have to be replaced. A tree in front of Building 1 was uprooted.

Barrett said Physical Plant had pumps ready to alleviate flooding, but there was not enough rain to cause any damage. Sandbags were set up in front of MacGregor House and the West Garage, he added.

Vice President Constantine B. Simonides said that MIT has contracts with sources outside MIT, and thus the decision to close the Institute is a serious one.

At 6:30 am last Friday, Simonides decided to close the Institute after consulting with Director of Personnel Joan F. Rice.

Charles Barry, secretary of Public Safety for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, had at that time announced his intention to recommend that Federal employees be excused from work.

"It was an easy decision to make at that moment," Simonides said. "Public schools were closing right and left. The condition of the campus [in poor weather conditions] is important," he said. Most MIT students already live near campus, so student travel was not an issue.

"How difficult it is for people to come from home" was the main consideration, Simonides added. He said that closing the Institute for only a half-day was considered. But concerns over mid-day traffic and forcing people to leave their homes ruled out this decision, he said.

James Olivieri, MIT Campus Police chief, said his afternoon shift came in early. Extra officers were distributed evenly around the dormitories. "No injuries were reported to us by anyone," he said.

The Campus Police did receive hundreds of inquiries about the status of the Institute Friday, Olivieri said. Campus Police helped students move their cars into garages once Simonides and Rice decided to close the Institute.

Living groups readied themselves independently for the storm. The Theta Delta Chi fraternity prepared for Hurricane Gloria by taping up all windows, lashing down all shutters and putting basement furniture out of flood range, according to Michael D. Levin '87, a member of the fraternity. Two or three fraternities didn't tape their windows to prevent storm-related breakage, although most did, Levin said.

In the region, governors of five New England states -- Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire and Rhode Island -- declared states of emergency while Connecticut maintained a limited state of emergency.

More than 2 million residences in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire were affected by power outages. Close to 100,000 of these residences were in the Boston area alone.