A Thanks From Col. Fossum    


I want to give a big Aggie WHOOP and a deep, resounding thank you to everyone for their loyalty and steadfastness throughout the past week. Conditions on campus have continued to stabilize due to your tremendous efforts.

Across every Aggie by the Sea population – student, staff, faculty, SSC and Chartwells member, former student and supportive voice on social media - we thank you for sticking with us through yet another trying time and trusting in us to sail forth through the literal night. It is because of you that we are able to hold fast and forge ahead. It is because of you we are able to face every challenge and crest the next wave. We are who we are because of you.

So, thank you, Aggies by the Sea, for weathering yet another storm with us, beside us. It definitely wasn’t the first and we know it won’t be the last, but as we hold tight to one another and our Aggie Core Values, we know there’s nothing we can’t conquer.

Below are just a few examples of that Aggie spirit.

Creative Solutions

In the midst of power and water outages, amid frigid temperatures, a team of staff and student volunteers established a system to transfer water from the campus swimming pool to the training ship, the General Rudder, to purify backup potable water.

Once power was restored, the campus faced building heating challenges from lack of water pressure to power boilers that distribute heat to areas on campus. Occupational Safety and Health Inspector Mike Phillips and SSC Assistant Director Randy Trebilcock created an out-of-the-box solution to use an emergency fire hose and hydrant to provide the water pressure needed power to the boilers and get heat to residence halls. They, along with several SSC staff, worked through the night to implement the solution.    

Selfless Service

As power failed, 46 Facilities and SSC staff immediately took action to create warming and charging stations on campus to make sure students and staff could get warm and stay connected. Working in coordination with Housing Coordinators, who volunteered to stay through the event, they have been on campus taking quick and often creative action to address challenges as they arose. The team secured everything from additional generators and fuel, portable toilets, fresh and potable water supplies and more in spite of regional supply outages and hazardous travel conditions.

Over 45 Chartwells Dining Services staff were on campus throughout the event to provide food for over 700 students and staff. Powered by a generator through the event, their job was made that much more difficult by the loss of water and a boil water notice issued by the City of Galveston. However, due to advance preparation, the team was able to continue to provide a variety of food options, including hot meals, and fresh water. 

Housing coordinators, along with around 25 community leaders and company commanders who volunteered to stay and help their fellow students, quickly organized a communications pipeline to aid students in getting to warming and charging stations. Working around the clock, this team provided entertainment, constant reassurance and ensured all student needs on campus were met. Going above and beyond the call of duty, they personally checked every single residence room on campus to make sure students were aware of current resources and had food, fresh water and warm clothing. The team also organized a hot chocolate hour with Dining Services Tuesday evening.  

Nearly two dozen Texas A&M Maritime Academy cadets organized and carried out efforts to distribute fresh drinking water to residence halls, the student center and waterfront pavilion, and carried water to residence hall rooms to support emergency sanitation actions. 

Steadfast Dedication
In the Sea Life Facility, Manager Katie St. Clair ’07 and 12 students have been providing husbandry care and system maintenance around the clock since Monday for all of our research animals throughout the storm. St. Clair said that despite the challenges and limited utilities, the staff have worked diligently and provided top-notch care for the animals, including alligators, fire worms, minnows, and other fish species.

In addition, the Sea Life Facility is housing 35 cold-stunned green sea turtles in partnership with our Gulf Center for Sea Turtle Research (GCSTR). Students have gotten the opportunity to prepare holding tanks with fresh seawater for turtles’ swim tests, which they are required to pass prior to being released back into the gulf.
GCSTR Director and Department of Marine Biology Professor Dr. Christopher Marshall said students are learning first-hand how to care for around 60 sea turtles during this historic cold-stunning event.

Ongoing Impacts
I know that many of you continue to experience challenges brought by the storm system and regional outages. We are here for you and will continue to provide information to help support your recovery.

FEMA has issued individual and business disaster assistance. Those who have sustained losses in the designated area can begin applying for assistance by registering online at www.disasterassistance.gov or by calling 1-800-621-3362 or 1-800-462-7585 TTY.

Please work with your supervisor if you are experiencing situations that impact your ability to instruct or work remotely next week. Students should work directly with their faculty member.

Take care of yourselves and one another, Ags. Gig ‘em!

Col. Michael E. Fossum