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Memories of Hurricane Ida

Students who sheltered in place recall the experience

By J’Brionne Helaire Photography editor
On November 15, 2021

NEW ORLEANS (November 15, 2021) – More than 75 DU students, along with faculty and essential staff, sheltered in place on campus as Hurricane Ida made landfall on Aug. 29, according to Dr. Roland Bullard, vice president for Student Success.

Like the majority of Dillard’s 1,215 students, I was able to leave for my hometown of Cecilia, which was not in the path of the storm. But I reached out to those who remained on-campus for their memories of the harrowing time.

Sixteen years after Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 storm with winds up to 174 mph, devastated New Orleans on Aug. 29, 2005, when the levees failed, Hurricane Ida made landfall at Port Fourchon as a Category 4 with maximum winds of 150 mph.

When it became apparent that Ida would affect New Orleans, students were encouraged to evacuate, and most were able to do so. Those who could not were left to shelter in place without power for two days before they were able to evacuate to Mobile, Alabama, on Sept. 1. No student stayed in Mobile longer than a week, Bullard said.

However, four students spent Sept. 4-25 at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, Arkansas, where Dr. Walter Kimbrough had served as president prior to his appointment here at Dillard.

The plan initially was that students who could not evacuate on their own would be taken from campus the morning of Saturday, Aug. 28, but a follow-up email Aug. 28 at 12:20 a.m. announced a change of plans. The group would have to shelter in place.

Most of those interviewed said they understood rapidly changing weather conditions prompted the decision.

Mister Dillard Andrew Logan, a mass communication senior from New Orleans who remained with the group, said, “I felt like the university did what was best… Nature played a big part in all of the decisions that were made.”

Logan said he couldn’t evacuate knowing some other students could not and that even if he had not been Mister Dillard, he would have made the same decision.

Markeyah Moore, a sophomore nursing major and health-care science minor, said her home in Rolling Fork, Mississippi, was in the path of the hurricane, so she stayed at Dillard.

 “When they announced that we were sheltering in place, I was content with the idea.”

The remaining students were sheltered in the PSB, according to an email from the Center for Student Engagement and Leadership team. Students stayed in classrooms for the first night of the storm, with charging stations and meals in the atrium, according to Bullard.

Some students felt evacuating to Shreveport would have calmed their anxieties, especially when the weather began to change.

David DeJohn, a sophomore business marketing major from Carson, California, said he’d never been in a hurricane, so “evacuating would have relieved my nervousness.”

“The wind was blowing hard, making the trees tap the window,” recalled DeJohn. “Now I know what to expect,” he said, adding he plans to evacuate for any future storm.

Logan said, “I’ve always evacuated for hurricanes, so it was definitely a scary experience.”

Logan said his only concern was the power going out and the heat he knew would follow, but he was thankful for being evacuated as soon as possible: “I found comfort in the students and the fact that we were all together at the same time.”

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