Many campuses in the Gulf region were shuttered as Tropical Storm Ida moved northward Monday, creating dangerous conditions for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The storm made landfall in Louisiana Sunday as a powerful Category 4 hurricane before being downgraded to a tropical storm.
Colleges in the storm’s path reported they were still assessing the damage Monday. Some institutions were dealing with power outages.
Jerad David, a spokesman for Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, La., which closed in advance of the storm, said the campus is without electricity, “but all initial indications are that our campus suffered only moderate damage, mostly roof damage.”
“Our service area, however, was not as fortunate,” David continued. “Many in our region have suffered catastrophic damage to homes. All of our region is without electricity, and much of the area is currently without water. Roads are impassable due to downed trees and power lines.”
David said Nicholls State “will remain closed until further notice in order for our area to recover and our people to begin their healing process.”
In New Orleans, where the entire city lost power due to “catastrophic” transmission damage, Tulane University president Michael A. Fitts said the university would close campus and cancel classes through Sunday, Sept. 12, with classes to remain online only from then until after the conclusion of fall break, on Oct. 11.
“Due to the current lack of power and critical services in the city, we have decided to restructure the semester to allow for maximum in-person instructional time while also protecting the safety of our community,” Fitts wrote. “The two weeks of canceled classes will be rescheduled at the end of the semester, allowing us nearly two and a half months of on-campus education following our return.”
Fitts also said Tulane would evacuate all remaining students to Houston via bus beginning today.
Also in New Orleans, Delgado Community College said it would remain closed through at least Friday, with plans for reopening status beyond Friday to be communicated later.
Xavier University of New Orleans said it would remain closed through Wednesday. “We will announce our return to instruction as soon as possible which will initially be remote,” the university said in a statement on its website.
Walter M. Kimbrough, the president of Dillard University, posted on Twitter about storm damage, likening it to the damage caused last year by Hurricane Zeta, a Category 3 storm:
“Very similar to Zeta last year — lots of branches down, a few roof shingles which causes some leaks,” he wrote. “Biggest thing I saw was the Lawless window facing Gentilly blown out.”
“About 60 students left and we are working on a location for them,” Kimbrough wrote. “Some in that group said they will go home as well. Waiting for updates on city power.”
Loyola University New Orleans said in a statement it would cancel classes for the week to assess damage and recover. The university reported that its remaining on-campus students were safe “and as far we know, so is every other member of our community. As it has for a century, our campus held up well, with only minor damage.”
“We have been making all sorts of plans in the alternative while we wait for word from the utility companies about how long it will take to restore power and internet to the city,” the statement said. “If the interruption is short, less than two weeks, we can go on pause, get creative with the academic calendar and make up the time. If it stretches a bit longer, we have two choices — either to push the fall semester into the normal ‘January term,’ or hopefully, to transition to virtual learning for a week or two. The tricky part is to get everyone to a place where they have internet in order to teach or learn. We will be in constant touch.”
Holy Cross University in New Orleans said all classes, remote and in person, would be canceled through at least Monday, Sept. 6, due to electrical outages cross the greater New Orleans area.
Janene Tate, a spokeswoman for Southern University, which has multiple campuses in Louisiana, said Monday that while the New Orleans campus was without power, the Baton Rouge campus still has it.
“There’s no major damage that we can see right now,” Tate said about the Baton Rouge campus. “We have about 500 students that remained on campus and they’re fine and they’re being fed and they have their air-conditioning.”
Tate said the 41 students who remained on the New Orleans campus will be transferred to the Baton Rouge campus.
Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge said the campus would remain closed today and Wednesday. “While we are making good progress on getting campus cleaned up and ready to return to normal operations, we must also give our students and employees time to address the various issues they are facing as a result of the storm,” LSU said in an update on its website Monday afternoon.
LSU president William F. Tate IV asked students, staff and faculty “not to rush back to campus but wait until they’ve been alerted and an all-clear has been given so that you give our emergency protocols an opportunity to clear the way and make sure the campus is safe for your return.”
Pearl River Community College in Mississippi said it would remain closed today “due to extensive cleanup efforts as a result of Hurricane Ida’s impact,” but it planned to resume normal operations Wednesday.
Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi said its classes would remain virtual today, and residential students would be notified when they could return to campus.
Mississippi College said its main campus in Clinton and its law school in Jackson would resume normal operations today and that students who experience difficulties returning to campus due to Ida should communicate with their professors.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette also said classes would resume today and instructed students who cannot travel to campus or who do not have reliable internet access to contact their instructors.