NATCHITOCHES, La. (KSLA) - Nearly two weeks after Hurricane Laura ripped through Natchitoches with hurricane-force winds, students and faculty members returned to class at Northwestern State University.
NSU sustained moderate damage with windows being blown out in some places, while a number of trees also came down. Like much of Natchitoches Parish, the university was left without power.
“Several windows of buildings were blown out, but all-in-all, thank goodness, not a lot of structural damage,” said Dr. Chris Maggio, President of Northwestern State University. “The people are safe and we are very fortunate the way we came out.”
Maggio said over 500 students chose to ride out the storm on campus, while a great majority decided to evacuate ahead of historic Hurricane Laura’s landfall.
“People still do not have power in lots of parts of our region,” Maggio said. ”SWEPCO was on campus here, they staged about 800 workers and hundreds of trucks - they worked tirelessly to get power back.”
To help students or faculty members who may have been financially affected by Hurricane Laura, NSU established a relief fund. Alumni, faculty, businesses and individuals can donate to the fund.
Those requesting assistance must fill out an application and detail damage incurred and how much money was lost, as a result.
“Thankfully, a lot of people have stepped forward to help,” added Maggio. “We’ll be trying to help as much as we can over the next couple of months.”
NSU is also providing a great deal of assistance to students, faculty and staff members at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, which sustained Category 4 wind damage.
“McNeese is one of our sister schools in the University of Louisiana System, we said, ’we’re here for you,’” Maggio said. “As much damage as we sustained here, it’s nothing like McNeese.”
Working with McNeese administrators, Maggio said he’s offering a variety of services for the McNeese community, such as access to counseling, courses, the recreational center and bookstore.