A number of relief efforts are underway at UGA to help residents who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
The university has one Red Cross shelter open and another one ready, if it is needed.
UGA’s Rock Eagle 4-H Center in Eatonton is a temporary housing shelter for approximately 1,000 people. As of Sept. 6, 560 people-10 percent of them children and many in wheelchairs-were being housed there.
A second temporary shelter had been set up in a closed-off section of the Ramsey Student Center for Student Activities to provide temporary housing to as many as 574 people. However, on Sept. 7 the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency informed university officials that the shelter would not be needed immediately.
As a result of this decision, one part of the Ramsey Center that had been converted into a shelter-the racquetball and squash courts, men’s and women’s locker rooms and swimming pool on the first floor-were reopened to Ramsey Center members on Sept. 9. The two gymnasia, which contain equipment that had been set up for the shelter-and the climbing wall remain closed for the time being, according to Jane Russell, Ramsey Center director.
“If the shelter is called into service, we are told this could occur on as little as five hours notice,” she says. “So users of these areas in the Ramsey Center should be aware that we may have to reinstitute the closures on short notice should these areas be needed.”
University officials also have identified a number of UGA students who lived in the storm-affected areas. Some of these students’ families have been displaced. To help these families and students of other colleges and universities who have been displaced, a volunteer office has been opened to coordinate housing issues. Students or their families needing temporary housing in Athens and people with vacant apartments or rental housing to offer without charge should contact Madeline Van Dyck, volunteer coordinator, by phone (714-7600 or 548-4500) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The College of Veterinary Medicine is assisting with the care of pets that evacuees bring with them as Red Cross emergency shelters are not allowed to house pets with people.
The university and the UGA Athletic Association coordinated a collection for hurricane relief in connection with the Sept. 10 football game at Sanford Stadium. Money collected will be used to provide direct relief to hurricane victims.
“The university has received many inquires in recent days from individuals and organizations, both on-and off-campus, seeking to organize fundraising drives and other relief efforts to assist our neighbors suffering from the disastrous hurricane on the Gulf coast,” says George Stafford, associate vice president for business and finance. “This outpouring of concern and desire to provide assistance is truly heartwarming.”
In the interest of providing a coordinated, efficient, effective and accountable relief effort, the university has established the following policies:
- any fundraising or other relief efforts by students or student organizations must be approved by and coordinated through the Office of Student Activities;
- any fundraising or other relief efforts to be conducted on the UGA campus by faculty, staff or other non-students must be approved by and coordinated through the Office of the Associate Vice President for Finance and Administration; and
- any obligation or use of university facilities and other resources in the relief effort should be approved and must be coordinated throughthe Office of Security Preparedness, directed by Opal Haley.
Future on-campus fundraisers will be permitted only on the Tate Student Center Plaza. Individual contributions also may be made at the Tate Center’s business office where debit and credit cards are accepted.
“We also want to remind students and others in the university community to be aware of individuals purporting to collect money for storm relief, who are not clearly identified as being part of a legitimately organized effort,” Tom Jackson, associate vice president for public affairs.
UGA students who desire crisis counseling are encouraged to contact the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services at the University Health Center.
There have been many offers of volunteer service in the aftermath of the storm. Students may contact Volunteer UGA or the Office of Student Activities, which is coordinating student volunteer efforts. Faculty, staff, students and concerned citizens may volunteer online by clicking the “Volunteer Now” link on the UGA homepage (www.uga.edu).
Other relief efforts
The university held an open forum for students on Sept. 6 in the theater of the Tate Student Center. Sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs, the forum was an opportunity for students who have been affected personally by the storm-and those who wanted to offer their support-to talk.
UGA has provided fall-term enrollment opportunities for students who have been affected by the closing of their colleges in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama due to Hurricane Katrina. The deadline to apply has passed. Approximately 130 offers of admission were made.
“Many of these students have made other plans so right now we don’t know how many will actually attend,” says Nancy McDuff, associate vice president for admissions and enrollment management. “But many are on campus already and in class.”
A reception for new transfer and transient students was held Sept. 9 to welcome them to UGA.
Meanwhile, Graduate School officials are working with graduate students displaced by the hurricane through early this week. They will be admitted to UGA based on their academic and research needs and a department’s ability to accommodate them at this point in fall semester.
The Parents and Families Association has provided $10,000 from its budget to assist the Office of Student Affairs in aiding incoming students from the hurricane area.