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Trees Hit Dorm, Transformer, Econ Building at Drew

Nearly 150 students and their families are staying in a shelter at the United Methodist Church in Chatham.

The Forest lost about two dozen trees that were blasted by the powerful gusts of Tropical Storm Sandy.

The large trees and numerous branches fell on the Drew University campus, known as The Forest, and some damaged buildings and equipment.

Trees struck a freshman dorm, an electrical transformer, and a building that houses the school's economics department as the area was hit by Tropical Storm Sandy, a university spokesman said Wednesday.

Nearly 150 students and family members who live with them on campus, and were not able to leave with other students as the storm approached, are now staying at a shelter set up at the United Methodist Church in Chatham as of 5 p.m. Wednesday, said David Muha, a Drew University spokesman.

"Drew is nicknamed the university in the Forest and we are very attached to our trees," Muha said. "It's sad to lose so many, but we always replant at least one for each one lost. We're just grateful that all the members of our community are safe and look forward to welcoming everyone back to campus next week."

Muha said the university has been without power since 8 p.m. Monday and has canceled all classes, events and activities through Sunday.

"We hope to allow students to return to the residence halls on Sunday afternoon and resume classes on Monday," Muha said. "Most students left campus last Sunday in advance of the storm but five undergraduates, 90 graduate students and 53 family members of graduate students were unable to leave. At 5 p.m. we moved them from campus to a shelter at the United Methodist Church in Chatham."

About two dozen large trees and numerous branches fell on the campus, known as "The Forest" for its trees.

Muha described the impact of the trees that fell on buildings and equipment:

One tree, a large black locust, landed on an electrical transformer that supplies power to Foster Hall. We plan to remove the tree tomorrow and bring in a high voltage technician to evaluate it. If it can't be repaired before students return, we will have to move the 58 residents of Foster Hall to another residence hall on campus.

A second tree, a large oak, fell on Brown Hall, which houses first-year undergraduates. We don't believe it caused any structural damage but will be evaluating it thoroughly tomorrow after the tree is removed.

A third tree—a red maple—landed on the roof of Lewis House, which houses our economics department. We don't believe it penetrated the roof but will be evaluating it as well.

Muha said the university's arboretum and forest preserve will be closed to the public until there's no danger from falling trees and branches.

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