Frequent tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean have kept the university on guard for safety hazards. Some forecasters have predicted that Tropical Storm Gustav will hit near Wilmington this week, causing flooding and beach erosion.
Hurricane Floyd, which hit eastern North Carolina three years ago, caused the last major flooding in the region.
Sharon Boyd, associate vice chancellor at UNC-W, said close communication with area beaches concerning weather formations has been successful in guaranteeing students' safety.
"When there is a mandatory evacuation of the beaches of New Hanover County ... activity on campus will cease," Boyd said. "Residential halls are closed, students evacuate, (and) faculty and staff prepare for shutdown and leave."
The school takes special measures for international and out-of-state students who might not have a means to leave or place of refuge.
"We also make provisions for students that cannot go home," Boyd said. "They stay with families, and we have these families identified ahead of time."
Boyd said the university begins preparing students for possible evacuations when they first arrive on campus at the year's start. "We cover this during orientation and provide special training for (resident advisers) and (resident counselors) in the beginning of August," she said. "The housing office is already prepared with plans up to date and (they) have supplies ready."
Boyd said there were four evacuations from 1996-99. "We've had a lot of experience with this, unfortunately," Boyd said.
She said the evacuation plan is revised each time. This time the school is considering establishing a new policy involving voluntary evacuation.