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Duke Lab Wins Presidential Team Award


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The 25 members of the Duke Marine Lab Hurricane Response Team are being recognized for their efforts to help the marine lab on Pivers Island bounce back after being pelted by sustained hurricane-force winds and torrential rainfall during hurricanes Florence and Dorian.

The team is being awarded the 2019 Duke Presidential Team Award at a public ceremony at 4 p.m. Feb. 25 in Page Auditorium.

Presidential Awards, the highest honor given by Duke to staff and faculty members, recognize individuals and teams who make distinctive contributions to the university and exemplify its institutional values of respect, trust, inclusion, diversity and excellence.

The Marine Lab team was selected for helping the coastal campus prepare for, respond to and recover from Hurricane Florence, which made landfall in September 2018, and Hurricane Dorian, which sideswiped the central coast in September 2019, according to the university.

“Dealing with the damage and upheaval caused by one storm can be overwhelming; dealing with two storms in a 12-month period could be catastrophic – but luckily, it wasn’t for us. We were prepared, thanks to this amazing team,” said Toddi Steelman, Stanback Dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment, who nominated the team for the honor.

In addition to securing the island before the storms’ arrivals and assessing the damage in their wakes, team members were responsible for evacuating the island and finding temporary housing for displaced students; meeting displaced students’ and faculty members’ academic and administrative needs until island facilities could be re-opened; coordinating debris removal and physical repairs on the island; directing community outreach; and preparing food for the recovery team, among many other duties.

“Several employees’ homes were damaged to the point that they were uninhabitable, but these staff members continued to work to ensure the safety of the students, assess and repair damaged buildings, and regain regular operations as quickly as possible,” Steelman wrote in her nomination letter.

The team is led by Marine Lab Director Andy Read and Associate Director Rebecca Smith and includes the following members from the Nicholas School, Duke University Marine Lab Campus Services and Duke Facilities Management: Tammy Bennett, Jim Bragan, Mimi Brown, Mike Cox, Liz DeMattia, Gary Fetter, Hazel George, Dana Gillikin, Mike Golden, Will Ipock, Nancy Kelly, Anita Kemp, Rachel Lo Piccolo, Erika Lovelace, Gilbert Mason, Sherri Nevius, Steve Palumbo, Jeanne Ryan, Zach Thomas, Park Watson, John Wilson, Gwendy Womble and Katie Wood.

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Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.