Several dozen students from New Orleans' Xavier University are currently sheltering at the Hyatt in Downtown Dallas. The journey here hasn't been easy, but they're undaunted.
The Texas-Louisiana state line is often where resilience meets hospitality. That was apparent late into the night as some 160 Xavier University students arrived in Dallas from New Orleans by bus.
“It was very long. I’ve never taken a road trip before,” said student, Muna Ugoh. “We’re just hoping as soon as possible, we can be back on campus when it’s safe for everybody to return.”
Hurricane Ida hit the Gulf Coast as a category four storm. With devastation and long-term power outages, university leadership decided to evacuate.
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“We knew that there was only but a certain amount of days that we could be facilities with no electricity,” said VP of Student Affairs, Curtis Wright.
The university will cover students’ lodging and meals. However, Wright said local partnerships have been critical; like the one they’ve established with TCU, which uses the same dining service as Xavier University.
“We go there in the mornings, we pick up the food, we bring it back over here and then our students are able to eat,” he said.
Emmanuel Ukot is president of Xavier’s Student Government Association. He said he’s proud of how students have handled being uprooted.
“You’re starting to see that even as we’re down, we’re not out,” said Ukot.
The timing isn’t lost on them, either. 16 years ago, to the day, many evacuations turned into permanent residencies after Hurricane Katrina.
“It is nice to know there’s a history in which Texas has opened their arms and said ‘hey, we got you,’” said Ukot.
Xavier students will start virtual learning next Tuesday, September 7. We’re told Xavier University officials hope to begin bringing students and faculty back to campus by September 11.
The university said it is continuing to assess the needs of all students to coordinate services and resources. Students are encouraged to contact the Office of Student Affairs at email@example.com