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UNT offering assistance to thousands of students affected by Hurricane Harvey

UNT offering assistance to thousands of students affected by Hurricane Harvey

August 30
21:48 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm last Friday night, pounding the Texas coast with winds gusting as high as 130 mph. Now six days later, cities such as Houston and Beaumont have experienced record flooding, with some areas receiving up to 50 inches of rain, according to The Weather Channel.

As a result, roughly 4,000 UNT students have been impacted by Hurricane Harvey, according to the university. Several of those students are still stuck in the storm and unable to travel to Denton, while some have family and loved ones in the middle of the flooding.

Madison Berry, a history and print journalism sophomore, currently has family living with her in Denton. Originally from Kingwood, a suburb northeast of Houston, the first floor of Berry’s family’s two-story townhouse was completely flooded.

Although they evacuated, her family became stranded in Spring for a few days.

“They got on a pay road and tried to exit to get on I-45, but the exit was closed,” Berry said. “They turned around to go back home, but people had closed the exit behind them…. luckily my mom has a friend who lives out there.”

Daphne Carter, a print and digital media senior and another student impacted, said both her parents are okay, but her grandparents’ house was severely flooded.

“They basically lost everything,” Carter said. “And neither of my grandparents work, so it’s going to be really tough to rebuild a situation they can’t afford.”

Carter’s step-mother also lost a friend in the flood. With her car about to go under, she got out to seek shelter, but couldn’t swim.

According to several outlets, the current death toll stands anywhere from 23 to 3o.

In an effort to accommodate students affected by Hurricane Harvey, UNT faculty and student organizations are coming together to help those in need. The fall registration period has been extended until Sept. 5, and new payment deadlines are Sept 6. to be flexible with students who were affected by the disaster, UNT spokesperson Julie Payne said.

“There are students here who are distracted because they have family that was affected,” Payne said. “Some students are still there.”

The university is working to get transfers in from other universities that were damaged by the hurricane so they can continue their education. In a press release last Sunday, UNT announced it would be assisting students who were affected by waiving application fees and immediately enrolling students for fall 2017 courses.

“UNT is already working with students to provide them with an educational home if they were displaced by the storm,” the release stated.

According to Payne, UNT has admitted 15 students through the process with two already moved into housing. In addition, the Dean of Students has helped about 60 current students with advocacy, food pantry and other resources.

Student organizations on campus are accepting donations for charities and UNT is opening its doors to those in need.

“With more rain predicted in the Houston area this week, UNT is equipped and prepared to open an emergency shelter for evacuees, if and when we are asked,” UNT President Neal Smatresk stated in a release on Tuesday. “Our university is a community of great compassion and we will support the impacted individuals in every way we can.”

Shannon Goodman, the vice president of enrollment, said in a release the university will continue to work one-on-one with students to address their evolving needs.

Michael Carroll, the director of the economics research group at UNT, said a disaster like this one can lead to people losing jobs due to the damage.

“There may be an increase in people enrolling in technical colleges because their other businesses were damaged,” Carroll said. “Those people may think they want to go back to school.”

Amir Gooden, a digital and print journalism senior, said while his home hasn’t been impacted beyond the loss of power and roof damage, the burden of finances is a concern as neither of his parents can work.

“[My mom] works in Galveston, so right now she’s kind of just off,” Gooden said. “You don’t know when your job is going to start back up. She works in a hospital as a volunteer coordinator, so even if she goes back to work, there may not be any volunteers. So it all kind of complicates her job.”

Impacted have said their professors have been understanding and compassionate with the situation. Berry said her professors were willing to let her go down to Kingwood and take care of anything she needed when the area was accessible again.

As far as Houston, many of the students believe the city is handling a bad situation in the best way possible. Even though Carter is nervous to return home in the next couple of weeks, she thinks the city’s decision to not order an evacuation was the right one.

“If you’ve ever been on Houston roads and Houston traffic, it is more dangerous to sit in that traffic,” Carter said. “I evacuated for Rita and it took us eight hours just to get to Austin.”

Some estimations show the evacuation of Hurricane Rita killed upwards to 70 people, while others have the death toll at over 100.

Aasma Aziz, a public health sophomore, said the disaster takes her back to Hurricane Katrina but thinks the help that has come through for the storm has been great.

“It’s nice to see a lot of people who have been given a platform using it to donate and send supplies,” Aziz said.

Counseling services on campus are also available for students to reach out to if they need it.

If you were impacted by Hurricane Harvey, you can call 940-565-2681, or email to begin enrolling.

Featured image: Hundreds of homes in the Rockport area were demolished in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Some of the homes remained standing, as their neighbors were completely destroyed. Courtesy Tomas Gonzalez

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James Norman and Julia Falcon

James Norman and Julia Falcon

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