Texas Colleges Scramble to Help Students Affected by Hurricane Harvey
Some Texas colleges are instructing professors to excuse the absences of students from areas that were hit the hardest by Hurricane Harvey.
With flash flood warnings in some areas and clean-up efforts underway in others, Texas college students affected by Hurricane Harvey are struggling to return to school.
Texas A&M, which is located less than 100 miles from Houston, the hardest hit city in the state, delayed its opening by two days to allow students more time to return to campus, reports the Texas Tribune.
The University of Texas at Austin started classes on Wednesday, but it is estimated that almost one-third of its students live in counties severely hit by the Category 4 storm.
Kristen Cole, a senior at Texas A&M, is still at her parents’ home located in Katy, Texas, along with nine other relatives and six pets. Luckily, their home has not been taken over by water.
Cole has been spending the last few days taking her parents truck to locate other relatives and to the grocery store to try and find food for her grandfather, who is diabetic.
“I have family in Cy-Fair who have water in their house now. I have family in Dickinson. I have family in Pasadena, in Santa Fe and Midtown,” says Cole. “It’s difficult to get back into the swing of things when you can’t even go to the store to get meat to make your grandpa dinners.”
Cole says she plans to head back to campus this weekend but is struggling with the decision.
“It’s hard to go from protecting your family to, ‘Let’s go to school.’”
Another Texas A&M student, Lexus Nguyen, says she will stay at her Katy home until Labor Day, which means she will miss three days of classes.
“I really don’t want to miss a lecture, but it seems like I have no choice,” says Nguyen. “It’s flooded everywhere. If I get my parents to drive me to College Station, and if something goes wrong during the process, I might regret it for the rest of my life.”
What College Officials Are Doing to Help
Officials at Texas Tech University, UT-Austin and Texas A&M have told professors to excuse absences from students affected by Harvey.
Students at Texas A&M who were having difficulty getting to campus were asked to call a hotline for help while students at UT-Austin were asked to fill out an online form to notify the school of their potential absence.
Texas Tech is offering counseling for students who arrived on campus before Harvey touched down.
“Students already on campus may have family and friends in the affected areas who have experienced severe losses resulting from inclement weather or flooding,” Texas Tech Provost Michael Galyean wrote in an e-mail to faculty on Monday, the first day of classes. “Some of these students may feel a need to return to their families to provide assistance.”
Each Baylor University student who is from areas of Texas where Harvey hit the hardest was sent a personalized email from administrators, which is estimated to be 4,000 students.
“We wanted students to know that we cared about them,” says Martha Lou Scott, the associate vice president for student life at Baylor. “We knew that it was difficult to be in Waco when their hearts and thoughts were back home.”
Scott says she believes pleas for help will continue to come in waves once cleanup efforts begin.
“The next wave will be the realization that ‘I am not coping in class and I can’t just get this out of my mind — I need more help than I thought I was going to need,'” says Scott. “After that is going to come the wave of realizing that just because the rain stopped doesn’t mean that everything is going to go back to the way it was. Maybe the reality of what home looked like before they went to Baylor is no longer that reality.”
TCU Football Program Opens Doors to Rice Players
Football players from Rice University, located in the heart of Houston, attempted to fly home from a game against Stanford in Sydney, Australia. The Owls were redirected as both major airports in Houston were shut down, according to ESPN.
The Texas Christian University football program has opened its doors to the team, offering a place to stay while the damage in Houston is assessed.
Rice head coach David Bailiff was a former TCU assistant coach under current head coach Gary Patterson. Patterson says it was a “no-brainer” to extend the use of TCU’s facilities to Rice.
“It’ll give them a chance to get here, get their legs under them, see what’s happening in Houston and assess what they need to do moving forward,” says TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte. “While they’re here, we’ll treat them like family and make sure they have all the things necessary at their disposal to make their transition as smooth as possible.”
Southern Methodist University, Baylor University, and the University of Texas at El Paso offered to take in the Owls as well.
TCU also extended the offer to the University of Houston who ultimately chose to go to Austin and the University of Texas.
“There is a strong brotherhood in the coaching world, and it is never more evident than at times like these,” says Patterson.
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