OPINION | Laura evacuee crisis should reinvigorate students’ relief efforts

Deeya Patel, Views Editor

The Hurricane Laura evacuee crisis should compel students to stay informed. (Maggie Pasterz)

When the question “Why is nobody talking about this?” is asked, we assume the real message the speaker is conveying is, “I just found out about this and feel the need to shame anyone who doesn’t.” But what if no one is talking about it? What if no one is talking about it enough, or the right people aren’t talking about it? 

During Hurricane Laura, Tulane University and the surrounding New Orleans area was fortunate to miss the brunt of the storm. Many others in Louisiana were not so lucky, however. As a demographic with the resources and the energy to make change, college students have the power to help evacuees. The problem is that we are not adequately informed. 

Since Laura, thousands of the evacuees from Lake Charles, Louisiana, have been forced to seek shelter in New Orleans. Some have been granted stay in hotels such as the Hilton Riverside, Sheraton and Marriott. Others are taking refuge in the New Orleans Convention Center. At the Marriott alone, 130 evacuees along with 58 dogs have been residing in the hotel. 

Even with Tulane efforts such as the Hurricane Laura Relief Drive and organizations like Give to Tulane, donations only do so much. Charities and relief organizations are not sources of unlimited aid. Even with groups including the American Red Cross and Community Foundation of Southwest Louisiana raising millions of dollars, there is still tension regarding the vastness of evacuees’ needs. 

Donations are also dwindling, which makes hurricane recovery a dangerously slow process. The Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, for instance, is still assisting those affected by floods from 2016. In the wake of Laura, the Red Cross remains short of millions needed to help the 16,000 evacuees in emergency housing. 

These numbers make the pursuit of full hurricane recovery daunting, but the culmination of contributions from individuals and especially communities such as Tulane can have an enormous impact. Post-hurricane relief is not immediate. It can take years to return to normalcy, and the Tulane community’s actions should reflect that timeline. The damage from Hurricane Laura, and hurricanes past, does not simply vanish. We must persist to stay informed and make our aid a continuous offer, not a single effort, much like the university has done post-Hurricane Katrina.  

To donate, visit https://securetu.tulane.edu/s/1586/Giving/16/interior.aspx?sid=1586&gid=2&pgid=9245&cid=19939&appealcode=EZW9

https://gov.louisiana.gov/page/hurricane-laura-donations