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Utility problems delay NOBTS reopening

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary students, faculty and staff will have to wait a few days longer for their return to campus. The tentative return date now is set for Monday, Sept. 8.

Classes throughout the seminary system will be cancelled Monday due to power problems on the main campus and two tropical systems nearing the East Coast. This cancellation includes all NOBTS hub and extension center sites with the exception of the Jackson, Miss., undergraduate center.

According to seminary President Chuck Kelley, Hurricane Gustav caused major damage to electric supply lines bringing power into the city. The damage will prevent seminary families from returning today or Friday as originally planned.

“We hope the return will begin Monday. We are doing all that we can to make that date work,” Kelley said. “We plan to reopen offices on Tuesday, Sept. 9, and resume our normal class schedule Sept. 9.

“Our whole seminary family did an exceptionally good job of dealing with the evacuation,” he wrote in a message on the seminary’s www.nobts.edu website. “We are asking for your cooperation and patience as we deal with this challenge.”

Kelley said he will post a message on the website by 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 6, to confirm or postpone the Monday return.

WWL radio in New Orleans began reporting possible power problems as early as Tuesday night. Entergy, the electricity provider for New Orleans and much of southeast Louisiana, confirmed major damage to supply lines near Baton Rouge. At the time, the company did not give an estimate as to when the lines would be repaired. On Wednesday morning, WWL reported that only 45 percent of the power in New Orleans had been restored.

At New Orleans Seminary, power was restored to the front part of the campus shortly after Hurricane Gustav. However, at the back part of the campus where most of the student and staff housing is located, power had not been restored Wednesday evening. The power on campus has had periodic disruptions. Water service to the campus was briefly lost Wednesday evening.

Kelley said Entergy has informed the seminary that Sunday will be the earliest that power can be restored to the full campus. Many neighborhoods and the universities near the seminary are facing similar issues with electricity.

Seminary officials cancelled classes at the extension centers because a large number of Monday classes utilize live video instruction originating from the main campus. NOBTS Provost Steve Lemke said Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike currently in the Atlantic played a key role in the decision to cancel classes.

Many of the extension sites in Florida could be dealing with the effects of these two storms early next week. Administrators wanted students at those sites to have proper time to prepare for Hanna and Ike.

Following is a list of cancelled classes and proposed makeup dates:

— Saturday classes scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 6, are delayed until Saturday, Sept. 13.

— All graduate and undergraduate classes on Monday, Sept. 8, at the New Orleans campus and extension centers (except undergraduate classes in Jackson, Miss.) are cancelled and will be made up on Monday, Nov. 24. Jackson undergraduate classes will continue as scheduled.

— The ProDoc Project Design Workshop will begin on Tuesday, Sept. 9 rather than Monday, Sept. 8.
Gary D. Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.