Hammond LA- Southeastern’s University Center is probably one of the last places Southeastern students would choose to spend the night. But as fate would have it, the University Center will be called home by a number of Southeastern’s on-campus residents until Hurricane Isaac blows over.
Monday, Aug. 27, campus officials notified students via Southeastern’s website that campus would be closing down at 3:30 p.m., and staying closed through Wednesday. Students were encouraged to return to their homes if possible. On campus residents who could not return home were to report to the University Center, which Southeastern officials were preparing to use as a shelter during the storm.
From the number of students taking shelter at the University Center, it appears most students heeded the advice and returned home. According to Jacob Currier, a residence assistant from Zachary Taylor Hall, about 150 students reported to the University Center.
Currier was one of around 15 resident assistants who volunteered to stay at the University Center for the storm instead of heading home. “Around 150 students may be here,” Currier said. “The shelter opened at 5:30 p.m., and residents were asked to be there before 6:30 p.m.”
“Residents might not have been given enough warning because most don’t have beds. I’m one of the few that brought my air mattress but most are on foam bed pads and sheets,” Currier says. “We have access to bathrooms and showers though, so it shouldn’t be too bad.” The area where they will be sleeping is on the floor of the basketball court.
Though it might not have the most comfortable amenities, the University Center is the obvious choice on campus for the shelter. Currier says, “For the number of people we have, it’s the best place. We have thick concrete all around us. A few of us are concerned about the roof though.”
Mike Aucoin, a senior biology major, isn’t worried about the situation. “The University Center is a sturdy shelter; I’m only mildly concerned,” Aucoin said.
The Department of Housing is trying its best to make students feel at home during the stressful situation by providing students with games and even a movie. Currier says, “Housing brought board games; CAB brought a Wii and their blow up screen and projector. I think they’re showing Sherlock Holmes.” He also said a few RAs brought a game cube, cards and even coloring books.
The efforts seem to be paying off, despite Hurricane Isaac blowing outside. Luka Garma, a sophomore history major said he was “quite happy” overall. Garma said his plans for the night were to “have a good time, and make the best of the situation.”
Currier described the scene at the University Center as a calm one. He says, “There are groups playing board games, some are reading by themselves. Most who have not been through a hurricane are excited to see one.”
According to Currier, he just plans on reading a book for class, playing cards and charging his electronics as much as possible until the power goes out. But the most important item on his list he said was sleep.
While everything is fun and games for now at the University Center, eventually students will be allowed to return to their dorms. When that time is depends entirely on Hurricane Isaac. Currier says hopefully that will happen Wednesday afternoon.
“Students will stay at the University Center until the police give us the all clear and the RAs have checked for damages in the buildings,” Currier stated. “That is expected sometime tomorrow afternoon or night. Of course the electricity still needs to be on in the dorms for this to happen.”
Until the all clear is given and the dorms check-out, students will remain inside the University Center. The Department of Housing will provide the students with food for the time being. Currier said that this afternoon, students were able to eat normally at the Cayman Café, but tomorrow he says they will be provided with sandwiches.
“The only concern I have is that we might run out of food, depending on how long things take,” Currier said. Power outages are the biggest potential problem in the way of students returning to the dorms.
For the time being though, the situation at the University Center seems to be “quite peachy,” as Garma aptly put it. But as the night goes on, things are bound to change with Hurricane Isaac approaching.
According to Aucoin, “It’s going to be a long night.”