On Thursday, Aug. 27, Hurricane Laura tore through Louisiana, hitting Natchitoches and Northwestern State University. From the shattered glass of Iberville Dining Hall to the entire campus being left without power, all the Natchitoches community has felt the storm’s affects.
Hannah Durgin, junior biology major, was on campus when Hurricane Laura hit.
“After hearing about the hurricane, I did not anticipate it being this destructive,” Durgin said. “If anything, I thought it was going to be another storm that I didn’t need to be worried about.”
Durgin had decided to ride out the storm with two of her friends in the campus dorms. They all slept through the hurricane and woke up to destruction.
“When looking around campus I saw that the hurricane was as significant as everyone made it seem,” Durgin said.
Durgin believes that Hurricane Laura has allowed NSU to become even furthered prepared if another hurricane were to come.
“I think this made us more aware of things we can prevent or make better,” Durgin said.
Frances Conine, Vice President for the Student Experience and Dean of Students had been informed that winds for Hurricane Laura were forecast at 90-100 miles per hour. From this prediction, she suspected the possibility of NSU being affected.
“I am always hopeful that hurricanes will down-grade by the time they get to us in this part of Louisiana,” Conine said. “Laura is certainly the worst storm we have had in my time at NSU.”
Conine was grateful that power was restored on campus quickly as many NSU employees are still without power and water.
“NSU is a community of resilient students, faculty, and staff. We have solid leadership and we have students who want to do the right thing,” Conine said. “We adjusted well to COVID and we are adjusting to the aftermath of Laura.”
Conine stated that in her experience people come together during hard times, especially NSU students and employees.
“I am hearing from NSU students and employees who are going to Lake Charles to help,” Conine said. “NSU leadership is in contact with colleagues at McNeese State University to offer assistance and support.”
NSU communicates often with the University of LA Board Office as well as with the Board of Regents and started preparing for the storm before it hit.
“We all know we have jobs to do,” Conine said. “We share information with each other, and we share that information with our community as often as we can. Like with COVID, we are working with State agencies that provide information, resources, and support. “
Mrs. Jennifer Kelly, Assistant to the Provost for Academic Support and Auxiliary Services, worked at NSU when Hurricane Rita passed through Natchitoches in 2005.
“I did anticipate some destruction. I did not believe that it would be this destructive and historical,” Kelly said. “However, I feel that we did a great job at NSU preparing our campus for the storm.”
Kelly was on campus Thursday morning just after the storm cleared. Several NSU buildings had roof and glass damage, trees and debris draped themselves across the campus grounds.
Kelly recalled seeing the glass shattered from Iberville Dining Hall and immediately focusing on assessing the damages to secure the building so that NSU could continue feeding its students.
Despite the hardships, Kelly stated the semester had been off to a great start and that NSU will continue to make great strides when classes resume next week
“NSU is persevering!” Kelly said, “The faculty and staff will continue to work with students who will still have affects from the storm as we move into the semester. We are one big family.”