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New Orleans Seminary in line for direct hit from Hurricane Georges

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Most students, staff and faculty of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary were among the hundreds of thousands of people who evacuated the greater New Orleans area Sept. 25-27 due to the approach of Hurricane Georges, currently a low category three hurricane with winds of 111 m.p.h. and a predicted rainfall of up to 20″.
Gale-force winds and heavy rain began late Sunday afternoon, Sept. 27, in the city, with the eye of the hurricane expected to hit New Orleans by 1 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28.
All electrical power and phone lines are down on the campus. Service is not expected to be restored for several days.
Sunday three large trees were knocked down by the strong winds, one of which crashed into the Utah apartments. One apartment was damaged, but the family of three who lived there was not injured.
As New Orleans Mayor Marc Morial issued a voluntary evacuation notice Saturday, Sept. 26, for areas within the city’s levee protection system, where the seminary is located, and a mandatory evacuation notice for the most flood-prone areas and trailer parks, New Orleans Seminary President Kelley announced the seminary would be closed at least Monday-Tuesday, Sept. 28-29. He urged anyone who wanted to leave the campus to do so as soon as possible since the city would be closing all highways, including Interstate 10, at 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27.
The Louisiana Superdome, site of the 1996 Southern Baptist Convention, was opened by the city as a shelter for people unable to leave town before the storm hit.
The seminary’s 52-lot trailer park was evacuated Sept. 26. Many families and single students drove to northern Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to stay with family and friends and churches that had notified the seminary of shelter space for students who could not return home.
The seminary established a shelter and emergency personnel command post in its Dodd Dormitory, a men’s dorm on the western and higher side of the campus. Other than the trailer park, of which all mobile homes are owned by students, all seminary buildings previously had been evaluated for safety and stability by Red Cross personnel and were deemed sturdy enough to weather a hurricane. Students left the campus because of the possibility of flooding and power outages.
Kelley and his wife, Rhonda, have remained in their home on the seminary campus, located on the eastern side of the city near Lake Pontchartrain, along with other seminary administrators, who are also in their homes. A few key staff members and some students, mostly international families, have remained on the campus.
Kelley issued a campus curfew from 7 p.m. Sunday to at least 7 a.m. Monday due to hazardous weather conditions and the need to keep the area clear for emergency vehicles.
Kelley asked Southern Baptists to join him in praying for the safety of the seminary family and the people of the greater New Orleans area.
One of the world’s largest theological institutions, New Orleans Seminary is one of six seminaries owned by the Southern Baptist Convention. New Orleans Seminary began its 81st academic year Aug. 1.

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  • Debbie Moore