TULANE COMMUNITY WEATHERS THE WEATHER — TOGETHER
by Mary-Elizabeth Lough
The force with which Hurricane Ida descended upon southeast Louisiana was mighty, but it was met with a force just as strong — that of the Tulane community. Comprehensive emergency planning and quick action in response to unforeseen challenges allowed Tulane to protect students and our community.
When Ida touched down near New Orleans as a Category 4 hurricane, the newly fortified flood protection system passed its first test with flying colors, but the storm illuminated shortcomings in the city’s electrical grid, shutting down public power to the entire city.
Tulane students board buses to Houston, TX following the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, August 31, 2021.
Though residence halls were on generator power throughout the storm, electricity and other basic services were not available in the city as a result of Ida. A major electrical tower collapsed into the Mississippi River during the storm, and all eight major transmission lines were down. There were no initial estimates of when power would be restored, and public officials originally said it could take weeks. Given this, Tulane officials such as Brian Johnson, associate vice president of campus operations, and the team in Student Affairs, swiftly relocated students who had sheltered in place to Houston where they were provided food and lodging while they arranged flights back to their hometowns. And, according to Lori Hurvitz, associate vice president for alumni relations, they were met with an outpouring of support. “When our students got to Houston, we had alumni and parents who just stepped up and stepped in to say ‘How can we help?’”
And help they did, doing everything from assisting in unloading buses and setting up a hospitality suite to gathering snacks and toiletries so the students could feel more at home, to shuttling students to the airport, bringing them home for home-cooked meals and setting up a watch party for the football game.
“It’s been really gratifying to see these alumni and parents just really make a difference in the lives of students,” she adds.
It’s the collective wisdom, empathy, and determination of so many that has prepared us for Ida and whatever else comes our way.
–Jered Bocage (TC ’00, G *02, B *20), Senior Director, Office of Alumni Relations
And Tulanians near and far wanted to make a difference. The university rapidly set up the Hurricane Relief Fund, raising over half a million dollars in a matter of days.
The fund went to work immediately, providing temporary housing for students, covering transportation costs so they could get home, feeding Tulane staff who were working around the clock to support students and secure campus, assisting students in financial need, and providing aid for frontline healthcare workers and medical residents who were caring for our most vulnerable.
Over 900 requests for aid have so far been granted, with more than $596,920 awarded at an average of $651 per award.
“The Hurricane Relief Fund is a really good example of how the Tulane community can come together and make a big difference in a lot of little ways,” says Hurvitz. “For a student that $651 was the ability to go home during a very stressful time or to know that they had what they need to be safe during a very traumatic time in their lives.”
Workers atop Hebert Hall inspect and repair damage from Hurricane Ida
Bocage agrees, noting, “The one thing Tulanians are always ready for is to be there for one another and for the institution; it’s that spirit that really makes this such a special community.”
Hurvitz adds, “The power of a community to raise over a half a million dollars in a week to me is what community is all about, and I think what Tulane is all about. This is a shining example of how you can really see the impact of your giving addressing the most immediate and urgent needs.”
Throughout, Tulane has taken great care to keep its profound dedication to academic excellence and student success at the fore. Thanks to adept planning and tireless hard work by faculty, staff and administrators, students will be welcomed back to campus on September 24, with in-person classes resuming on September 27.
Hurricane Ida has shown that Tulane will continue to face adversity with generosity and with fortitude, having learned from the lessons of the past and working together to build an ever-stronger university characterized by the commitment of its diverse, vibrant family.
Students lined up on Brown Field along with some of the 35 buses that would shuttle them to Houston hotels to wait for their flights home, August 31, 2021.
The Hurricane Relief Fund is a really good example of how the Tulane community can come together and make a big difference in a lot of little ways.
–Lori Hurvitz, Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations
Follow us on Social Media
JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER
Stay connected to Tulane University with the Alumni Newsletter, sent the second Monday every month. This newsletter feature national alumni events and highlights Tulane's outstanding alumni.
Update Your Information
It only takes a moment to update your contact information and helps to ensure that you receive the latest news, exciting updates, invitations to events and more from Tulane University. Please update your most recent contact information by filling out the form below.