Houston Baptist University was not spared the wrath of Hurricane Ike as it roared through Houston in the early morning hours of Saturday, Sept. 13.
Early damage estimates range from $8 from $10 million, although that figure is expected to rise as building and infrastructure inspections continue throughout the coming weeks. More importantly, approximately 60 HBU students and emergency personnel who took shelter on the campus during the storm escaped unharmed. No reports of injuries to HBU students, faculty or staff have been received.
“When we count our blessings, the safety of our HBU family is definitely at the top of the list,” said HBU President Robert Sloan. “Our campus can be rebuilt and repaired, but I think we all walked away from this experience with a greater appreciation for the everyday blessings of God.”
The campus has suffered significant wind and water damage to a number of buildings, but hardest hit were the M.D. Anderson Student Center, a longtime favorite gathering place for students, and the Brown Administrative Complex. The Student Center houses a campus eatery and coffee shop, Husky Central admissions offices, Spiritual Life and Student Life offices, the band hall and the University Bookstore. The television studio and offices in the Brown Administrative Complex also have all suffered significant wind, water and structural damage. A number of classrooms in other buildings suffered some wind and water damage. Uprooted trees and broken limbs were scattered across the campus landscape.
Students and personnel who took refuge on campus have been without power since the storm. Emergency generators along with the dedication of Aramark Food Service personnel have ensured that students were well-fed during the storm. Representatives from HBU’s police department and student life staff stayed with the students. President Sloan, his wife, Sue, and Provost Paul Bonicelli also stayed on campus, offering reassurance to students.
As of noon Monday, power had not been restored to campus. Classes for Monday and Tuesday were canceled, with further updates being posted on the University website at www.hbu.edu . HBU’s emergency alert system also has been utilized numerous times during the crisis. Even the social networking site Facebook, popular with students, has been utilized to communicate campus status.
“This is a significant event in the life of HBU,” said President Sloan. “We will work together to rebuild our campus and to resume class as soon as it is safely possible. We urge HBU alumni and Texas Baptists to include Houston Baptist University, our students, and our faculty and staff in their prayers, and to consider our students and facilities when making charitable contributions after the storm,” said Sloan.