For those of us who were here five years ago today in “the storm,” we’ll never forget Katrina. It brings back to me memories of great joy in trusting God for EVERYTHING, and tremendous stress having to deal with all that was stable spinning out of control all at once time.
If you’d like to take a walk through “Katrina week” at Belhaven, below are my emails to the campus during the storm.
We didn’t have power after it hit, but I was able to dictate these messages through my cell phone to our web director who was living in New York, who posted on our web which was housed in Atlanta.
But all that week, we had no idea if students and families were reading the messages because direct communication was impossible in Jackson.
Without water, AC, power, internet, ice, gas, or very much food……we made it through.
We didn’t know if students would come back — they all did!
Sunday, August 28, 2005, 7:00 pm (CDT) All classes and activities for Belhaven College have been cancelled for Monday. College officials will make the decision as soon as possible on Monday whether or not we can hold classes on Tuesday. All administrative offices will also be closed. Our physical plant team on campus has been and continues to prepare for the effects of the storm. Be praying for them especially. Resident students are receiving training today and tomorrow for what to do during the storm. Our resident life staff will be in full force. We are reminding students that even as the storm passes many injuries from a storm like this come from people who go out after the storm too soon, rather than during the storm. We have established a central number to call for further information: 601-968-5928. There will also be updates on our web page (www.belhaven.edu) as additional information becomes available. We encourage prayers for all of the inhabitants of the Gulf Coast as well as for our on campus team and our students.
Monday, August 29, 2005, 6:30 am (CDT) We will do our best to keep the web report updated as we get news from the campus. Our web server is housed in Atlanta, so even if the College loses power, we still should be able to give you reports on this web page.
Monday, August, 29, 12:00 noon (CDT) I just returned from the campus and all is prepared for the storm as much as possible. I visited each of the residence halls and students were in, dry, in good spirits, and safe. Students will be going to the student center for lunch, but after that, we will be keeping them in the residence halls through the remainder of the storm. Students will take sack lunches and water back to their halls at lunch and have that for dinner and snacks. Our maintenance team has done a wonder job preparing the campus. I understand from students that many of them went home, and took with them other students. I trust you have been in contact with your student, and know exactly where they are staying during the storm. The winds and rain picked up significantly this morning. Right now they are predicting the storm to increase here in the next hour….from 30 mph winds to 75 mph winds by 6pm. After that, the worst of the storm should pass by and the winds go back down to 30 mph through the night. I’m glad it is coming during the day so we can better see what is going on. We have cancelled classes for Tuesday. We are expecting to lose power as the storm hits harder, and of course, since this storm is hitting nearly all of Mississippi, we anticipate that getting service reconnected will be a slow process. Tornados are of course a primary concern for us. We will keep you up to date as we have further information.
Monday, August 29, 4:00 p.m. (CDT) Power is still on in the Jackson area. However, the Belhaven e-mail server has gone down, so students have lost access to their Belhaven e-mail accounts for the time being. Large trees are down on campus, but no significant damage. We have received assurance from Entergy in the event of a loss of power that Belhaven is a high priority to resume power after the storm. Please continue to pray as the most intense part of the storm is about to come.
Monday, August 29, 6:45 p.m. (CDT) The worst of the storm seems to have passed. Thankfully it weakened some before hitting Jackson. Sustained winds were 50 mph with gusts reaching 65 mph. Power was up on campus all day until 6:15 p.m. At the same time, a tree fell and broke the main gas line, which can’t be fixed until tomorrow. The city of Jackson’s water pumping plant has experienced problems and there is no water at this time either. Cell phone service is spotty around the city and residential/long distance phone service is down. While there are several utilities that are down at this time, there has been no damage to Belhaven buildings. Overall we feel very fortunate; most importantly our students are safe and dry!
Monday, August 29, 8:45 p.m. (CDT) Winds have now died down to 15/20 mph, which seems quite calm. Utilities will remain out throughout the night, except for water which seems to be restored. The Belhaven e-mail system remains down and will until power is restored. Other than downed trees, there doesn’t appear to be any damage to the campus. All students are safe and encouraged to remain in the residence halls throughout the night and into the morning. Unfortunately one fatality was reported in Jackson a few blocks from campus; a tree fell onto an elderly woman’s house and she was killed. Our maintenance crew is reporting to campus at 6:00 a.m. to begin clean up efforts.
Tuesday, August 30, 10:00 a.m. (CDT) The campus came through the storm well. Four major trees are down on the campus, but thankfully no structural damage. Many roads to the campus are blocked due to downed trees, except for access from the North. Power, gas, and water remain off and we are not sure at this time when they will be restored. Classes will not resume until power is restored. We hope the power might come back today, but there are no indicators yet. They tell us that 95% of Entergy’s customers are without service at this time. The students are in good spirits, but tired after a night without utilities. We have encouraged the students to remain on campus still and many have been helping clean up limbs across the college property. The food service personnel are continuing to feed the students despite not being able to use their kitchen appliances. Our Gulf Coast students are particularly concerned about families members and anxious to hear from them soon. We are hearing good reports from our faculty and staff members that they have little or no damage to their properties. We are very grateful for the Lord’s protection. Thank you for your prayers.
Tuesday, August 30, 2:00 p.m. (CDT) All classes will be cancelled for the remainder of this week and through Labor Day weekend. Classes will resume Tuesday morning, September 6. Administrative offices will open when power is restored. Still no definite word when this will be.
Wednesday, August 31, 2:00 p.m. (CDT) The power remains off on campus, although sections of Jackson are regaining power. We are hopeful the campus might have restored power within the next couple days. The football game scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed; the new date for this game will be November 19. Those players living close by have been encouraged to return home. The number of students on campus has dropped to 200. If rental busses can be secured, the soccer and volleyball teams will still play their out-of-town games this weekend.
For students attending colleges on the Gulf Coast, if your institution has had to cancel classes for the remainder of the semester and you would like to attend Belhaven, we will hold an open enrollment on Tuesday morning, September 6. Our admission and financial aid offices will be open to help process your application and aid. If you are qualified and enroll, you will only have missed the first few days of the semester.
Note to Belhaven employees: Your direct deposit paychecks will be processed today and those who want to pick up their paychecks can do so at the Center for the Arts.
Thursday, September 1, 7:15 p.m. (CDT) Word has come from Entergy that power should be restored tomorrow morning. We will be getting the campus back into operation and preparing for classes to resume next Tuesday, September 6. Most students have gone home with only about 30 remaining. We have received additional food and water to provide for these students. Please pray for a safe return of our students next week. We are thankful for how God has blessed up through this tragedy.
There will be a special service of prayer and thanksgiving on Tuesday, September 6, at our normal chapel time, 11:00 a.m. in the Center for the Arts. All classes will be cancelled for the remainder of this week and through Labor Day weekend. Classes will resume Tuesday morning, September 6. Administrative offices will open when power is restored. Still no definite word when this will be.
Friday, September 2, 2005 7:45 p.m. (CDT) THE POWER IS ON!!!! The campus is fully operational and we are ready to start classes on Tuesday morning, September 6. We encourage students to come back to Jackson on Monday if possible. If you are held up due to fuel or logistical reasons we understand, just come back as soon as you can. We will help catch students up. Just a note, fuel trucks arrived in Jackson in mass transit today. Gas stations here are back in business. We are encouraged that we only missed five days of classes and we will put plans into place to ensure we can have adequate class time without further imposition to families. We are thankful for the patience of our students, their families, staff, and faculty during this trying time.
Saturday, September 3, 2005 10:15 a.m. (CDT)
Students: In order to facilitate your travel, classes will not begin until 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6. Residence Halls are open now; we hope you can return by Tuesday. We are praying for your safe return as soon as possible.
Faculty: Classes will not begin until 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6. There is a mandatory meeting for faculty and staff at 11:00 a.m. in Barber Auditorium on Tuesday.
Staff: Administrative offices will be open at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 6. There is a mandatory meeting for faculty and staff at 11:00 a.m. in Barber Auditorium on Tuesday.
The Chapel of Prayer and Thanksgiving will be held on Thursday, September 8, rather than the earlier announced date of Tuesday.
The fall break, as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, will be held as originally scheduled.
Saturday, September 3, 2005 4:00 p.m. (CST) On Sunday morning, September 4, at 10:00 a.m., Belhaven College will host a special worship service for the college, community, and friends at the Center for the Arts. The worship will be led by Mr. Doug Eltzroth and Rev. Rev. Dolphus Weary, President of Mission Mississippi will preach. All welcome.