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Houston Baptist damages: $8-10M & up


HOUSTON (BP)–Hurricane Ike scarred Houston Baptist University with an estimated $8 million to $10 million in damages, HBU President Robert Sloan reported on the university’s website Sept. 15.

The damage estimate “is expected to rise,” Sloan noted, “as building and infrastructure inspections continue throughout the coming weeks.”

Sloan recounted: “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.”

He continued: “The Student Center housing a campus eatery and coffee shop, Husky Central admissions offices, Spiritual Life and Student Life offices, our band hall, and the University Bookstore; our television studio; and offices in the Brown Administrative Complex 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 are scattered across the campus landscape.”

Another Baptist-related entity in Houston, the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, escaped damage from Ike’s fury.

“As far as our classrooms and our library, we’re in good shape,” reported Denny Autrey, dean of the SWBTS Houston campus. However, some flooding was found in the sanctuary and choir room used by Park Place Baptist Church on the campus.

Both Houston Baptist University and Southwestern’s Havard campus, like much of the greater Houston area, remained without power Sept. 16, with no word yet when it will restored.

At HBU, classes were cancelled Sept. 15-17, with the website noting, “No students are being allowed on campus until further notice…. Classes will resume as soon as conditions permit.”

At the Havard campus, classes have been cancelled from Sept. 15-19.

Sloan, in his message on Houston Baptist University’s www.hbu.edu website, reported that “approximately 60 HBU students and emergency personnel who took shelter on the campus during the storm escaped unharmed.”

“Our campus can be rebuilt and repaired,” Sloan reflected, “but I think we all walked away from this experience with a greater appreciation for the everyday blessings of God….

“We urge HBU alumni and our friends across the country to include Houston Baptist University and all those affected by this event in your prayers. We have also added a link to our homepage for those of you who would like to contribute to our efforts as we work to rebuild and repair our campus. Donations may be made online or by mail.”

A news release from Southwestern Seminary noted that one of Havard’s adjunct professors, Mack Jones, is leading disaster relief efforts in the Baytown area, where he is pastor of Wooster Baptist Church.

“Wooster Baptist Church has opened its doors as a point of distribution for FEMA operations in Baytown,” the news release stated.

Ike’s impact also was felt at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College in Louisville, Ky., where nearly 300,000 homes and business lost power from 75 mph winds from remnants of Hurricane Ike.

Classes have been cancelled until power is restored to the campus. Students remaining on campus are being provided meals and other essential services, seminary officials said in a news release.

“Given what other institutions have experienced and endured, this is small by comparison,” SBTS President R. Albert Mohler Jr said. “We will take this as a challenge and make some memories as we get the job done.”

At New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, meanwhile, commuter parking lots are full and the Hardin Student Center atrium bustles as students go to and from class. Both are signs that life after Hurricanes Gustav and Ike is returning to normal.

Just less than two weeks after Hurricane Gustav made landfall about 70 miles southwest of New Orleans, Hurricane Ike brushed by the Louisiana coast en route to its devastating landfall at Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 13. For coastal Louisiana, the one-two punch from Gustav and Ike equaled first wind, then water. For New Orleans Seminary, the impact from both hurricanes amounted to very minor wind damage and sporadic power outages.

Following Gustav, all power had been restored to the seminary campus by Friday, Sept. 5. Ike’s winds began disrupting electrical service to the residential portion of the campus by midday Thursday, Sept. 11. By Saturday evening, Sept. 13, Entergy New Orleans had restored all power to the campus.
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Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, with reporting by Keith Collier of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Lawrence Smith of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Michael McCormack of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

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