The devastation left behind in New Orleans and the surrounding area gave sufficient cause for immediate action to be taken on the part of residents along the Texas coast when told to evacuate due to Hurricane Rita.Don Mills, vice chancellor for student affairs, said TCU was prepared to provide short-term emergency shelter in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum and the University Recreation Center.
“TCU is not designated as an emergency center, but we were ready to help any way we could had there been a catastrophe in Houston,” Mills said.
As of Thursday afternoon, no students had contacted Campus Life for assistance, Mills said.
Mills said most families of those that evacuated have returned home.
Sophomore business major Kirk Oliver said his family evacuated Wednesday morning to Waco, then continued to Fort Worth.
Another student whose family heeded the warning was sophomore political science major Nathan Kaspar. He said his father put a lot of work into boarding up their home in Houston before his family left Friday for Katy.
Although senior nutrition major Jackie Bondzio did not experience the effects of Rita directly, he said his roommate’s parents came in from the area near Clear Lake.
Kaspar said had Houstonians not witnessed the effects of Katrina, fewer may have evacuated.
“People saw what happened with Katrina and knew it could’ve happened to them,” Kaspar said.
Kaspar said many were under the “better safe than sorry” mentality.
Oliver said that people fled because staying in that area could be dangerous.
“The number of people that evacuated had an idea of what to expect,” Oliver said.
Students reported minimal damage to property in the Houston area. Trees and power lines were blown over, but homes were spared.
“The power went out, but that was about it,” Oliver said.
Similarly, Bondzio said his family’s home only sustained high winds.
Though the university was not as heavily affected by the storm as anticipated, some students say they were pleased with TCU’s readiness to respond.
“I think TCU did a good job on keeping students prepared and informed,” Bondzio said.
Being prepared to accommodate those on campus and being willing to bring in the families of those affected also impressed students.
Oliver said the university put the interests of those possibly affected by Rita before the weekend’s events.
“TCU did a very good job at being open to the families and canceling events,” Oliver said.