10 years post-Katrina, finding a home after a hurricane

(cnr.edu, Just a decade ago, students were displaced from Xavier University to Hampton.)

(cnr.edu Xavier University during Hurricane Katrina)

Arriana McLymore | Editor-in-Chief

Hurricane Katrina ripped through Mississippi and Louisiana 10 years ago on August 29. The storm killed more than 1,800 people and displaced many more. Today, communities remember the damages Hurricane Katrina caused and try to continue healing from their losses.

A portion of those displaced were Dillard and Xavier University students. Both historically black universities are located in New Orleans, which received major damage and flooding due to the storm. In an effort to provide assistance for the relocated students, Hampton University worked in conjunction with the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO).

Students who paid tuition to schools that closed as a result of Hurricane Katrina were able to enroll tuition-free for the fall semester at Hampton University. Other colleges and universities across the nation also made accommodations for Dillard and Xavier students to continue their education.

“In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Hampton University is poised to offer any assistance necessary to the faculty, staff and students at our sister schools,” said William R. Harvey, Hampton University president and chairman of the board of NAFEO.

Hampton University accepted over 40 students from schools closed due to Hurricane Katrina. Trevon Swain was among those students. Two weeks into his first semester of freshman year, Swain and other students of Xavier University were notified that the school was being evacuated.

“I was looking at flights, I was looking at trains, I was looking at everything,” said Swain. “But luckily, I went to school with friends who were there with me at Xavier University. One of my friends had her car, which was ironic because she wasn’t supposed to have a car as freshman.”

One broken rule led to a great escape. “I packed one suitcase and I hopped in her car,” said Swain. “There was a total of four of us and we ended up driving to Tennessee. We waited it out and we saw that the levees broke.”

About 80 percent of New Orleans was underwater after the levees broke, according to dosomething.org. Hurricane Katrina caused nearly $81 billion in property damage across Louisiana and other states along the Gulf of Mexico.

“A couple of days later I made the decision on if I was going to wait until Xavier opened back up, or was I going to go to Howard or Hampton” Swain continued. “And I decided to go to Hampton.”

Many students chose to transfer back to their respective institutions after the first semester of the 2005-06 school year. “I decided to stay [at Hampton] because my grandmother lived in North Carolina,” Swain said. “Though I wanted to be away from home initially when I went off to college, I wanted security.” Swain completed his freshman year at Hampton University.

“My Hampton experience, for the most part, was unforgettable. I met a lot of friends; friends for a lifetime. That’s something that I think that you can’t really replace.”

Swain graduated from Hampton University with a bachelor’s degree in chemistry. He now works at the FDA center of medicine office of research in the division of applied veterinary research.

Hampton University continued to provide assistance for the students displaced by Hurricane Katrina. The university hosted clothing and shoes drives, launched a relief fund, and welcomed Marvalene Hughes, president of Dillard University, as the speaker for the 63rd annual Opening Convocation.

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