Hurricane Season is Here! Are You Prepared? See How Loyola Faced Isaac Last Fall

By Katie Cannella, Area Director of Carrollton Hall
Loyola University New Orleans

While his appearance was quick, his effects have been long-lasting.  The Office of Residential Life has taken Isaac as both validation of good decision making and an opportunity for change. After assessing the severity of the storm and consulting with the Emergency Management Team, the Residential Life professional staff created a plan for sheltering in place. Each building hosted hall meetings and starting at 4pm on Tuesday, August 28, each entered into "lock down" until weather conditions subsided and it was considered safe to be outside.

Prior to the storm's onset, Residential Life prepared by collecting information from each student about their evacuation plan or their location in the halls during the storm.  Rosters were given to Resident Assistants to help track both the students and their guests and numbers were shared with Dining Services who delivered bottled water and other non-perishable food to each residence hall.  Food options during the stay indoors included a packaged lunches containing a variety of sandwich options, chips, fruit, and dessert along with a few hot meals of such as red beans and rice and hamburgers and hot dogs.

During the storm, staff was completing rounds every hour or two to check on student health and noting any and all facilities issues.  While several rooms on campus were retaining a various quantities of water, student facilities staff was present to assist in the quick removal of water during the storm and crews moved in shortly after power was restored to do deep cleanings of each space that took in any amount of water.  Since the storm has passed, the list of facilities issues experienced during the storm have been passed on to various contractors and engineers for improvements and repairs – including resealing balcony and rooftop ledges, replacing sections of damaged drywall, and repairing an elevator.

Despite the inclement weather outside and some water in student spaces, the halls remained a place of both safety and entertainment.  Resident Assistants remained in the halls to complete resident counts, room checks, additional rounds, and responded to emergencies. They also worked hard to build community through board games, hallway socials, talent shows, and conversation. During this time, new relationships were established and community built among both residents and staff. We are excited about our successes during the storm and cannot thank our student staff enough for all of their hard work.

In addition to these successes, our Residential Life team has been working hard since the storm to look critically at the decisions made before, during and after, so that the next time provides even more comfort and clarity for our students.  In the next few months, we are looking to develop the following:

1. A decision flow chart for Residential Life during tropical storm and hurricane weather
2. Plans regarding staffing needs during various steps
3. Lists of supplies needed for each step for preparation and implementation
4. Plans for communication with students and families using voicemail recordings, emails, texts, website and social media updates
5. A complied list of general tips for preparing for tropical storm and hurricane weather