National News

Hurricane Ida Raises Concern About UT’s Storm Procedures

By Bianca Gallo

Search and rescue efforts continue in parts of Louisiana after Hurricane Ida ravaged its way through the area over the weekend. 

Fleets of boats and helicopters have already rescued hundreds of people trapped in the flooded neighborhoods of New Orleans while utility crews are struggling to restore power to the millions of customers currently in the dark.

More than 50 people have been confirmed dead as the storm hit Louisiana and the northeast. Many more are unaccounted for or still in desperate need of rescuing.

Southeast Louisiana was among the hardest hit areas where up to 12 feet of water filled streets and homes.  

In an eerie turn of events, Ida made landfall in Louisiana on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina; a storm that killed 1,833 people and caused over $100 billion in damages.  

Antasia Hawkins, senior political science major at Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge, said her school handled the storm well. 

“Friday before the storm came they announced a campus closure and that we should prepare to evacuate if possible,” said Hawkins.

But this storm raises some concern considering the Tampa Bay area is no stranger to hurricanes and storms. Just last fall, Tropical Storm Eta flooded parts of campus and caused classes to become virtual for 2 days. 

“It was definitely nerve wracking in the moment,” said Kali Copp, sophomore business management major. “However, I feel UT did a good job with handling the situation”

While the only damage Tropical Storm Eta left on campus was some minor flooding in plant park, a stronger storm may have much more serious effects. 

“I am confident that the university community would be safe,” said UT biology professor Daniel Huber. “But if we were to be hit by a category 1 hurricane, the storm surge would inundate the entire campus, undoubtedly.”

UT requires all residential students to complete a hurricane emergency action form.  The form outlines where the student’s emergency evacuation shelter would be and what their overall plan for safety is in the event of a hurricane. 

Even with paperwork to fill out, students still may not know what UT’s storm procedures are in case of a hurricane.

“I have no clue what their procedures are,” said Copp. “I think UT should do more ongoing education on their procedures so students are prepared before it occurs.” 

The UT website states that the university has a hurricane plan that sets out preparation procedures to protect the community from a storm such as alerting students via text and email about the latest safety information. 

“We have emergency management systems, we have protocols in place, we’ve got lots of new and very durably constructed buildings,” said Huber.

While storm preparations are in place, larger and more frequent storms could be preventable.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has done a study that has proven the continuing climate crisis is directly linked with the stronger and more frequent storms that are occurring. 

“College students can help the climate crisis by looking for grassroots organizations on their campuses or their communities that are geared towards fighting the climate crisis,” said Hawkins, who is vice president of an organization at her university centered around educating fellow students and members of the Baton Rouge community on bettering the environment.

UT offers several ways to get involved in fighting the climate crisis, such as the recycling club or Student Environmental Action Coalition.

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