Hurricane Season: TCU students and alum chime in with past and present experiences

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Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria have all brought rain, wind and destruction to different parts of the world – but they also brought something else. For some TCU students, the storms brought a reminder of everything they’d been through when they were hit by hurricanes.

Amanda Kiefer, a junior finance major and New Orleans Native, has found herself thinking about her own time after Hurricane Katrina.

“I was only in third grade,” Kiefer said. “But it really marked the end of my childhood for me. It matured a lot of us, understanding how much people lost.”

She lived through Katrina in 2005 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012. Her family’s home didn’t flood in either storm, but there was significant damage.

“Our house had wind damage from Katrina, which ripped apart the roof causing water to get inside the walls,” Kiefer said. “I remember that a lot of people thought we survived the storm and then a day or two later everything really hit the fan when the levees broke.”

Junior economics major Bobby O’Leary, from North Palm Beach, Florida, also has the destruction of Katrina stamped clearly in his memory after his family chose not to evacuate.

“We had some cracked windows and this huge oak tree in our front yard got struck by lightning, splitting it in down the middle where you could see the burn marks,” O’Leary said. “Half of the tree stayed upright and the other half fell over and smashed our brick driveway, putting a hole in it.”

Katrina wasn’t O’Leary’s last hurricane, these powerful storms are something his family has adapted and prepared for.

“Our house is literally built for hurricanes, which is why we don’t evacuate,” he said. “The whole house is made out of concrete and so is the foundation. We have hurricane-proof windows, sturdier trusses to reinforce the roof and a generator that’s half the size of a train car that can power the whole house for up to two weeks.”

These preparations are part of the reason O’Leary’s family remained safe during the recent Hurricane Irma.

While the storms have all blown past, Kiefer said that she knows the weeks after the storm can be the hardest part.

“It’s going to feel different at first, but remember why you love your city,” Kiefer said. “It is going to get better down the line, but it’s going to be slow moving and you’re going to have to put in the work. You have to go into this emotionally and mentally knowing it’s not going to be the same for a while.”