Alumni Forced Out of College Cities in Louisiana

A rope swing on the Tchefuncte River is strung up in the limbs after Hurricane Ida blew through Louisiana. The photo shows the water level five feet high. Photo by Jackson Lanaux

After Hurricane Ida touched ground and destroyed the coastline of Louisiana over the weekend, alumni are having to resort to online school once again. Former students, attending Tulane University in New Orleans or Louisiana State University (LSU) in Baton Rouge now deal with situations much like the school year of 2020-2021.  

Anna Cay Vernon, graduate of 2021, had only been on campus for two weeks and attended class for only five days to start her freshman year of college. 

Over the past year multiple hurricane watches were placed over New Orleans, but stay in orders were still in place, so many students were unbothered by another watch. 

However, tensions rose when Ida graduated from a category 1 hurricane to a category 4 hurricane in the span of about four hours last Saturday. As students were evacuated from Tulane, they frantically found a way out of New Orleans. 

“My dad ended up driving to pick me and four of my Tulane friends up and driving us immediately back at 1 a.m. It was so crowded, one of my friends was sitting in the cargo space of our car; all flights were cancelled so I took friends from Maryland, New York, Wisconsin, and Oregon,” Vernon said.

Ainsley Anderson, class of 2021, and freshman at Tulane, also retreated home to Little Rock. 

“It has been really hard because it feels like we were finally getting settled in and over the COVID-19 hump, then a major hurricane hit and flooded our room and now we have to go back to online school again,” Anderson said. 

Although New Orleans was hit harder by the storm, Baton Rouge received damage from Ida as well. 

Amelia Skinner, class of 2020 and sophomore at LSU, also headed home to Little Rock. In Baton Rouge, Skinner lives in an apartment off campus and neighbors informed her that there was no flood damage from the storm.

Another sophomore at LSU and class of 2020 graduate, Mary Jett McLarty, lost power in her housing and had no choice but to head home. McLarty was most concerned about her schooling and job at the UREC and French department on campus.

However, McLarty’s roommate, a native of New Orleans, was overwhelmed by Ida. 

“She and her family evacuated to Florida and are just now being able to go back [after almost a week]. They were lucky and only had mild water damage,” McLarty said.

Water and sewage damage, power outages, and blown over buildings all contributed to the destruction that led Tulane to close in person classes until Oct. 11. Students at Tulane may only return to campus during fall break, Oct. 7-10 while in-person classes resume Oct. 11.  Students at LSU can return to campus Tuesday, Sept. 7. 

Vernon and the other students attending schools in south Louisiana are ready to be back in school, especially after living through a previous year of online classes, but students like Anderson are taking the time off to themselves.

“I am choosing to look at it as an opportunity to travel and figure out what I want to do with my life. It will also be a good opportunity to give back to the City of New Orleans and help with the rebuilding.” Anderson said.



As Louisiana rebuilds their traumatized cities, there are many outlets to  provide help though donations or volunteering. See information at the following links. 



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