New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College President Jamie Dew announced the reopening of the school’s campus Sept. 7 following Hurricane Ida. The campus has been closed to residents since the Aug. 29 storm knocked out electricity throughout the region.
Campus power was fully restored late in the day on Sept. 6 and seminary facilities crews checked every campus residence to assure there were no unit-level electricity problems. After the facilities team assessed each unit, Dew invited residents to return and reoccupy campus housing.
“The campus is now open and we are very excited about that,” Dew told the seminary family via a social media video. “I’m excited to see you back on campus to continue the work God put us here to do.”
In a video addressed to campus residents, Dew urged returning students, faculty, and staff to buy groceries and fill up with gasoline before entering the city. While many stores are reopening and some supplies are available, there are long lines at grocery stores and gas stations. With power restored to over 75 percent of the residences in New Orleans, Dew warned the basic services could be strained for the next few days as many return.
Dew praised the hard work of the facilities team and disaster relief volunteers from SEND Relief and local SBC churches such as Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss., for making the return possible.
“Our team has worked really hard to get the campus back to a place where it is safe for you to be here," Dew said. "A lot of the clean-up is already done, and I think you will enjoy being back on campus."
Dew also announced that insurance and building assessment crews would be conducting thorough inspections in all housing units and public buildings from Sept. 8 through Sept. 10. While the school escaped the catastrophic damage seen in places like LaPlace, Grand Isle, and Lafitte, the roof and water damage on campus will add up. The thorough, room-by-room assessment will help provide a more definitive assessment of the losses.
Main campus classes were suspended during the first week following the storm to allow students time to establish longer-than-expected evacuation locations. On Sept. 7, the seminary relaunched main campus classes in a virtual format and will continue virtually through the week of Sept. 13. On Sept. 20, NOBTS and Leavell College will relaunch in-person classes on the main campus. Campus offices began reopening Sept. 8 and all will be reopened by Sept. 13.
In the coming weeks, the seminary hopes to mobilize students, faculty, and staff to help with monumental recovery efforts in the hardest-hit areas in the region, Dew said.The seminary has set up a donation website for those who want to help students with evacuation costs and to help replace food lost during the power outage Or assist with the Seminary recovery efforts.