Wednesday, May 23, 2018
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Colleges make room for students displaced by Katrina

Sam Dungar had a short glimpse of what life is like as a new college freshman.

The 17-year-old Maumee resident went through orientation and unpacked his belongings in a residence hall at Loyola University New Orleans but soon found himself sleeping in a church shelter in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Yesterday, after only a week away, the St. John's Jesuit High School graduate returned home to northwest Ohio.

Now Sam is pondering how soon - if at all - he'll be able to return to his-first choice school, where power remains down from the storm and conditions are worsening daily.

"If at all possible, I would like to head back down there. But it's an entire city under sea level. It's hard to work with," he said.

According to the American Council on Education, Sam is one of an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 college students in the New Orleans area affected by the hurricane.

In all, nearly three dozen universities in the Gulf Coast region sustained serious damage as a result of Katrina.

Dozens of colleges around the country, including some in northwest Ohio, have offered to help displaced students find spaces in their classrooms. They've also extended admission deadlines, waived application fees, and agreed to streamline paperwork. The U.S. Department of Education has also pledged to relax student-loan guidelines to help students transferring from the hurricane-ravaged area.

In northwest Ohio, students from hurricane-ravaged Gulf Coast universities are being welcomed into classrooms at the University of Toledo and Lourdes College in Sylvania.

"It seems like the right thing to do to help to the extent that we can," UT Provost Alan Goodridge said yesterday. Incoming students from colleges in the impacted areas can audit classes and ultimately enter UT free of charge for this semester, with issues such as credit transfers and degree requirements being dealt with later.

Holly Walsh, 21, of Perrysburg, has already taken advantage of UT's offer. She avoided the devastation and personal harm of the hurricane because she evacuated her rental house near Tulane University on Saturday, before the storm hit.

The first-year law student now finds herself home with only an overnight bag and a couple of law books, but she said she didn't want to have her education disrupted. Last night, she attended law classes at UT.

"I left my car, I left everything," she said. "We thought we'd be back."

Though he also left many of his belongings behind, the Dungar youth pointed out that his situation is nothing compared to that of those who are living in the hurricane-impacted areas.

"It's minor compared to the lives [that were lost]," he said.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Contact Kim Bates at:

or 419-724-6074.

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