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GML Tropical Storm and Hurricane Preparedness Plan

hurricane damaged boatThe Grice Marine Laboratory (GML) Director ("Lab Director"), in response to instructions from the CofC Director of Emergency Management, will oversee the activation of hurricane (or storm) emergency procedures. These procedures may include the securing of offices, teaching and research laboratories, the aquarium room, the computer room, dormitory facilities, boats, outdoor equipment and storage sheds as well as the installation of hurricane shutters. The Lab Director will keep personnel updated on conditions and provide information about whether the dormitory should be evacuated. Hurricane season is June 1 - November 30. In May, the Lab Director and Lab Manager will review and update hurricane plans/procedures as necessary, inventory hurricane preparation supplies and make purchases if needed.

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In preparation for a storm, faculty members have responsibility for securing their own offices, research laboratories, and equipment in common spaces in or outside of the GML building or in the field. GML staff have responsibility for securing the remainder of the facility, including classrooms and common use spaces. The Molecular Core Manager is responsible for equipment in the Molecular Core Facility (room 210), and the Collections Curator is respoonsible for the Collections Room (room 105). Faculty and students may be called upon for additional help with securing the facility.

Alert Levels

The following alert levels are general guidelines that will be activated for a storm of sufficient size and potentially destructive intensity. More specific instructions may come from the CofC Director of Emergency Management.

Level 1 Alert - Storm Monitoring and Planning

There is tropical storm or hurricane activity with a potential for landfall along the southeastern United States.

  1. The Director of Emergency Management will notify the campus of the storm activity. 
  2. Personnel should make plans to back up computer data and to secure any equipment, papers, lab materials and organisms as needed.
  3. All individuals should plan for potential activities associated with Levels 2, 3, and 4.

Level 2 Alert - Storm Monitoring and Preparation

The tropical storm or hurricane is approaching the southeastern coast of the US with a possibility of striking South Carolina, but landfall is still more than 3 days away. Personnel should make plans for a possible evacuation. Helpful evacuation planning information can be found here.

  1. The Director of Emergency Management will continue to provide updates. The Lab Director will keep personnel aware of the potential impact of the storm on GML.
  2. Computer data backup should be completed.
  3. Plans for securing materials needing refrigeration or freezing should be completed.
  4. The Lab Manager will make plastic sheeting (currently stored in room 126) available in room 113 for covering electronic equipment and important paperwork.
  5. Boats. The Marine Operations Manager will secure the boats. They will be moved to higher ground (currently the HML parking lot) or some other appropriate and secure location.
  6. Outdoor Equipment. The Lab Manager will secure all materials outside of GML.

Level 3 Alert - Hurricane Watch

A hurricane watch is issued for the Charleston area. The storm continues its approach toward the South Carolina coast and there is a significant possibility that it will make landfall in the Charleston region within 48 hours.

  1. Hurricane Shutters. The Lab Manager will coordinate with Physical Plant to install shutters on the East side of GML.
  2. Trucks. The Marine Operations Manager will move the GML trucks to a safe and secure location.
  3. Computers and Electrical Equipment. All computers and electronic equipment will be unplugged (including internet cables), covered with plastic and placed on a table or lab bench away from any windows. Equipment and papers should be picked up from the floor. Faculty and staff are responsible for their own offices and labs.
  4. Collections. The Collections Curator will secure the Collections Room, including the storage of chemical containers to prevent spillage.  The door to the Collections Room should be closed.
  5. Classrooms. The Lab Manager will be responsible for unplugging and covering with plastic all equipment in (1) the Computer Lab, (2) the four clasrooms (101, 201, 202, 113), and (3) the Conference Room (106). Microscopes will be put away and the cabinets locked.
  6. Freezers. The Lab Manager will inventory and document available freezer space, should the need to relocate samples arise.
  7. Emergency Power. The Lab Manager will verify that all necessary refrigerator and freezer equipment is plugged into outlets supplied with emergency power. The Marine Operations Manager will verify that all equipment holding live animals is plugged into outlets supplied with emergency power. Extra extension cords are availble in the container in the Mechanical room (112). In case of loss of power, GML operates on emergency power delivered only through outlets that are labeled “EM” or “Emergency Power.”  Faculty may opt to move critical samples or organisms to more secure locations, or to store them by other means of controlling temperature (e.g., dry ice, liquid N2, etc.). 
  8. Files. The Administrative Coordinator will be responsible for securing files and equipment in the Main Office. Hardcopies of sensitive files will be moved to room 201. Boxes with materials will be clearly labeled to facilitate their return to their original location once the storm has passed.
  9. Projectors. The Lab Manager will relocate applicable projector equipment to room 201. Ceiling projectors in the classrooms will be unplugged and covered in plastic.
  10. Animals. Plans should be in place to release, relocate or provide organisms with the neccessary conditions for survival over a period of several days without care.

Level 4 Alert - Hurricane Warning and Evacuation

A hurricane warning is issued for the Charleston area. The storm continues its approach toward the South Carolina coast and there is a high probability that the storm will make landfall within approximately 36 hours and threaten the GML facility and personnel.

  1. Organisms. If GML is under threat of inundation, the Lab Director will destroy all non-indigenous species held at the facility that are deemed a threat of being released, as per operating protocols.  Other organisms may be relocated, released or otherwise disposed of. Containment doors of the Wet Lab will be shut.
  2. Power. Individual faculty or staff members should turn off, unplug and cover all remaining non-essential equipment excluding refrigerators or freezers.
  3. Personnel. All personnel must evacuate GML property.
  4. Doors. The Lab Director will lock all outside doors to the building. From this point forward, CofC Public Safety will assume responsibility for the security of GML buildings and property.

Returning to GML after the Storm

Employees should return to GML only when the College has reopened and all employees have been given permission to return to work. Faculty and staff are not considered "essential personnel" under the College's Hurricane and Tropical Storm Preparedness Plan and should not return during times when only essential personnel are required to be present.  The President and College's Emergency Management Team will determine when employees can return to work. All employees should check the College's emergency webpage or call 843-752-7246 for information and updates.

The Lab Director will attempt, through email, to keep GML personnel informed of conditions at the facility and when GML will be re-opened. As an alternative to email, call the GML main office (843-953-9200) to speak to someone or hear a recorded message. If the GML phones are not operational, call ther Lab Director (see below).

Personnel Emergency Phone Numbers




Home or alternate


GML Lab Director

Bob Podolsky




GML Lab Manager

Greg Townsley



GML Marine Ops Manager

Pete Meier



GPMB Director

Craig Plante




GML Molecular Core Manager

Kristy Hill-Spanik



GML Admin Coordinator

Shelly Brew




GML Collections Curator

Tony Harold



Useful Links

Hurricane Evacuation Planning Information

The National Weather Service National Hurricane Center website

The National Weather Service South Carolina Forecast and Forecast Discussion

Hurricane and storm tracking

SC Emergency Management Division

The College’s emergency website

Revised June 2017