When Louisiana Tech University senior Sadie Simmons went to bed on April 24, she had no idea how dangerous the night would become.
She woke up around 2 a.m., she said. Not by an alarm, but by the wind.
“You could just hear these strong gusts of wind outside my window,” Simmons said.
The 145 mph winds were from a tornado that struck the city of Ruston, Louisiana, along a 6.7-mile path.
“No one knew it was supposed to be that bad,” Simmons said.
While Simmons was one of the more fortunate ones that night, she said many of her friends had their homes and vehicles ruined by the storm.
Scott Maggio, a junior at Louisiana Tech and son of NSU President Chris Maggio, said he woke up at 4 a.m. to texts and pictures. He added that it didn’t become real until he was actually out among the damaged area.
Down power lines, broken windows and cars crushed in parking lots were among the damage Maggio said he saw.
“It was depressing to see all of the stadiums and campus looking the way they did,” Maggio said.
On top of the damage caused by the storm, a Grambling State University student and her son were killed in the Lincoln Parish area.
“Our thoughts and prayers do go out to the family of the Grambling State student and her son who were killed in the storm,” Tonya Smith, executive director of the Office of University Communications at Louisiana Tech, said.
Every residence hall took some damage, from windows broken to awnings torn off.
Of the damaged areas of the campus, Smith said the football, tennis, soccer and softball facilities are “a complete loss.”
In a sign of solidarity with Louisiana Tech, NSU’s Sigma Sigma Sigma and Pi Kappa Alpha are collecting items to donate to the university.
Students and others are asked to give bottled water, nonperishable foods and toiletries for the relief effort.
SGA President Jacob Ellis issued a formal statement on April 25 to offer his condolences to those affected by the storm.
The statement read, in part, “Thought Tech has long served as a rival to NSU, they are first and foremost a sister institution in the University of Louisiana System and a valued partner in providing higher education to the citizens of Louisiana.”
Through the statement, Ellis said the students of NSU pledge to support Louisiana Tech during this difficult time.