When freshman Kappa Sigma recruit Greg Stokes heard Hurricane Katrina might make landfall in his hometown of New Orleans, he hoped for the best.”We’ve been lucky for 40 years,” said Stokes, a finance major. “We thought we’d get lucky again.”
At first, it seemed that New Orleans missed the worst of the storm. But after three levee points on Lake Pontchartrain broke, the city was covered in water.
Stokes’ parents evacuated from the city before the storm, but his grandparents stayed behind in a hotel in downtown New Orleans.
Within Kappa Sig, Stokes was not alone. Chapter President Trevor Heaney said more than 10 members, including Stokes, were directly affected by Hurricane Katrina. Heaney said nearly one-third of his chapter is from Louisiana.
For the members of Kappa Sig, helping carries extra resonance, Stokes said.
“It’s kind of personal to us,” Stokes said.
Heaney said all the families are safe.
The Stokes’ home was saved from flooding when the 17th Street Canal levee broke, but the waters rose within blocks of his home. Stokes’ grandparents were evacuated to Houston.
“A lot have lost everything,” Heaney said. “Some of them don’t know what they have left.”
Stokes said the fraternity banded together in the wake of the hurricane.
“Older members from New Orleans took charge,” Stokes said. “Some other members offered homes for people to stay at.”
Freshman premajor Brad Bowen, also a Kappa Sig recruit, offered his family’s beach house to Kappa Sig family members in need of a temporary shelter.
Heaney also said that several of the members reunited with their families and went to New Orleans when parts of the city were reopened over the weekend.
Some Kappa Sigs have found it hard to contact family members because almost all cell phone service around New Orleans is down.
Stokes said he talks with his family primarily through text messaging.
The general mood of Kappa Sig is hopeful, Heaney said.
Heaney said he is organizing the fraternity to help Habitat for Humanity rebuild homes in New Orleans. The TCU Kappa Sigma Mom’s Club also donated a generous amount of money for the relief effort, Heaney said.
Stokes said he was thankful for the fraternity’s support of its New Orleans members.
Kappa Sig members also manned American Red Cross donation stations in the Brown-Lupton Student Center with other fraternities and sororities.
Other Greek organizations are also helping.
“None of our members were directly affected by the hurricane,” said Katherine Mangum, Kappa Alpha Theta president, in an e-mail Monday. “But we are all working as individuals and as a chapter to help any efforts the Greeks and the campus are supporting.”
Delta Tau Delta President Mark Jones said members from all fraternities and sororities on campus are helping.
Heaney said the relief response is overwhelming.
“We have so many people willing to help,” Heaney said.