Heavy rains and strong winds whip through New Orleans on Wednesday, as forecasters predict the threat of major flooding will last through the night.
With heavy rain and high winds in New Orleans, Tulane University senior Rebecca Friedman wasn’t sure whether she should evacuate the city this weekend or stay on campus.
Administrators required students to remain indoors and Friedman was uncertain of what damage Hurricane Isaac might bring. She ultimately decided to fly home.
“We didn’t have a mandatory evacuation, but I just really wanted to get to New York to be safe,” Friedman says. “I thought about staying, but I really didn’t want to be stuck without power for who-knows-how-long if the power goes out.”
Some of Friedman’s friends decided to stay at Tulane, while others traveled home or to nearby cities such as Atlanta and Houston, she says.
Friedman is one of many college students in the United States who are feeling the effects of Hurricane Isaac — which started as a tropical storm during the weekend and was declared a Category 1 hurricane Tuesday afternoon.
At schools, such as the University of Miami, classes have been canceled and students in dry areas are hoping family and friends fare well through the storm. In parts of Mississippi and Alabama, officials have ordered mandatory evacuations.
Isaac, which sustained winds as high as 75 miles per hour as it reached the southeast Louisiana coast Tuesday, initially sparked some concern at Florida institutions. The University of Miami announced Saturday that all classes and events on its Coral Gables and Rosenstiel campuses were closed Monday. The University of West Florida also remained closed through Wednesday. But, some institutions such as the University of Florida stayed open.,
Despite canceled classes, students in Florida — like University of West Florida sophomore Venise Evans — say they weren’t too worried about Isaac because the storm didn’t hit Florida as hard as originally expected. A resident advisor in one of the school’s residence halls, Evans says many students stayed on campus while only a few left.
“I’ve been going around to all of my residents and asking what they are going to do,” Evans says. “I’ve been trying to get a head count for people who are leaving.”
Still, college students in affected areas are facing mandatory curfews and are advised to stay indoors. The University of Southern Mississippi has a 12:01 a.m. curfew in place for all students Wednesday, requiring them to remain in their residence halls until noon, the school said in a statement.
Officials at Tulane say that they will assess the condition of the campus before deciding when to reopen the university. Tulane was closed Tuesday and Wednesday.
“The two biggest issues that could impact the timing are the possibility of widespread power outages and street flooding,” Tulane said in a statement on its website. “Those situations will be readily apparent post-storm and will inform our decision.”
Despite the storm, Emory sophomore Stephanie Fang, who lives in New Orleans, says she “isn’t particularly worried” about the hurricane. Her family and friends aren’t evacuating and a lot of them have bought perishable foods and other supplies to board up their houses and stay safe.
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