STORM UPDATE: Classes Cancelled for Monday, Community Meeting Called

On Saturday evening, November 3, 2012, the Rev. Canon Patrick Malloy, dean of General Seminary, sent a pastoral letter to the seminary community describing continuing struggles on the Close in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Importantly, classes will NOT be held on Monday, November 5, 2012, after all, and the community is asked to come together, as many as possible, for an afternoon meeting to decide next steps. Staff members are to attempt to come to work, if it is safe and feasable to do so. Here is Dean Malloy's letter: Dear Sisters and Brothers,

As I reported yesterday, power has been restored to the Close. I am sitting in my living room with plenty of light. My kitchen is in working order, so dinner is on the stove. It is the same in all of the residential units here, and we are all very grateful. The roar of the gasoline-powered generator has been silenced, the phone and laptop charging station has vanished, and, indeed, we are glad. Still, we cannot be 100% confident that what we have gained will last. This past week, Con Edison has been shutting off power in other neighborhoods, occasionally, as needed for the benefit of the entire grid. Meanwhile, the weather forecast calls for the temperatures in NYC to drop significantly in the next two days, and we do not have heat. Things are much better, but we are far from normal.

I had originally told you, after consultation with the other administrators, faculty members, and student officials, that we would be open and back to our regular routine on Monday. It turns out that my decision was premature. General will NOT be back to business-as-usual on Monday. Here are the reasons.

  • Earlier today, I asked all of you to let me know how things were off the Close. We come from all over the tristate area. Some of you have told me that you are without the basic necessities and doubt that you could come to Chelsea without unreasonable effort, if not personal risk.
  • The damage to our heating system here is more extensive than we thought. We cannot expect to have heat restored to the Close immediately. How soon it can be restored, I cannot say. Mr. Khani, with technicians and vendors, is working to determine what we need and when we can get it.
  • Only one classroom on the Close has heating units that do now draw upon the boiler or geothermal systems: Seabury Auditorium. In the renovation, self-contained cooling/heating units were installed there. All the other classrooms and public spaces, however, including the Chapel and the Refectory, depend on heating systems that will not be operative on Monday. The Sherrod Hall classrooms, the 21st Street Room, and the Close Room do not have units that generate heat.
  • The temperature is about to fall to below freezing in NYC, and we cannot hold classes in spaces that cold.

Consequently, we will NOT hold classes on Monday, nor will our liturgical life resume. Here is the plan.

  • Staff members should attempt to come to work. We will be able to heat workspaces, even if it means using space heaters. Please be in contact with your manager to work out the details. We are well aware that setting a firm start time is not only unreasonable but also impossible. Please contact you managers to discuss when (and if) you can come to work.
  • Lunch will be served in the Refectory from 12:20 until 2:00. That will be a time for us to socialize and commiserate, but also to begin substantive, if informal, conversations about how to move forward.
  • At 2:00, we will meet in Seabury Auditorium to discuss precisely how we will move forward. It will be crucial that as many people as possible from every constituency be there: students (commuting and residential), faculty, administration, and staff. Often, some groups in our community do not attend such meetings, perhaps because they think that they are not really significant in our common life. I assure you, whoever you are, that is not so. We need everyone there. Please make every effort to attend, as long as you are personally safe, so that, together, we can make decisions about the seminary's next steps. Managers can help to ensure a full turn-out.
  • Please assume that all other scheduled activities for Monday on the Close, e.g., Fr. Reho's workshop on writing resumes, are cancelled. After our community conversation on Monday, we will write with new information for the rest of next week.

Please, as we gear up for Monday, feel free to contact me. The best solution to the challenges that face all of us will come from the input of all of us. I will post this to Facebook, as I have my other messages this week. Will you please do all you can to circulate this memo? Thank you.

I hope you are warm. I hope you are well.

Your brother, Patrick+