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Power restored, classes resume at HBU

HOUSTON (BP)–Classes resumed Sept. 22 at Houston Baptist University, eight days after Hurricane Ike caused an estimated $8 million to $10 million damage to the campus.

The university’s student center and administrative complex suffered significant wind, water and structural damage during the storm but student residences were undamaged and classroom buildings were largely unaffected as well, university President Robert B. Sloan Jr. said in a statement posted on HBU’s website.

Although the campus was without power for a week, emergency generators provided crucial support for staff and students who weathered the storm on campus, Sloan said. Cool, clear weather allowed cleanup crews to make good progress on recovery efforts.

The university’s computer network returned to service the morning of Sept. 21 after servers were moved to an off-site location where electrical power was available, according to a statement from Charles Fix, interim director of HBU’s information technology services. By that evening, electrical power had been fully restored to the campus and Sloan announced that classes would resume at 10 a.m. the next day.

In the statement posted Sept. 19, Sloan praised students and staff for the patience and good spirit they demonstrated during the chaotic week after the storm struck.

“As we see more images from the storm’s destruction, we realize more and more how many are suffering in our area,” Sloan said. “We know that nothing happens outside the love of Christ, and it is that belief that keeps us strong. We pray for God’s peace for those who have lost loved ones, homes, pets and that sense of normalcy that we all take for granted.

“One of our challenges this week has been that our administrative team is working without access to their offices and files. Today’s wireless technology — cell phones, air cards, laptops — has been invaluable,” Sloan continued. “Our remote access to our website has allowed us to keep our HBU homepage updated with information. Our emergency alert system has served us well and has given us the capability to send phone and text message campus updates to our faculty, staff and students on a daily basis.

“Our students who remain on campus and have been here since the storm are in good spirits. There is a definite bond among these young people, built on prayer, friendship and youthful optimism,” Sloan added. “I met yesterday with our faculty and staff who were able to get to campus. We prayed together, hugged familiar faces, and shared our stories. There was a peace to that gathering, and a strength that comes from knowing God’s grace and goodness.”

Students who remained on campus helped other storm victims by volunteering for Houston’s End Hunger Network and Neighborhood Centers. The university has established a “Student Success Fund” for donations to help students and their families who suffered losses because of the hurricane.
Compiled by Mark Kelly, an assistant editor with Baptist Press. For updates about Houston Baptist University’s storm recovery progress, visit their website at hbu.edu.

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