As hundreds of power trucks pour into New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida, Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), said that now, “It all comes down to power.”
As New Orleans’ power company, Entergy, faces what it described as “catastrophic transmission damage” and the city faces what might be weeks without power, Dew pledged the seminary’s support to displaced students, staff and faculty as they face displacement for the next couple of weeks. Hundreds of thousands are without power in the New Orleans area, and Entergy has requested as many as 20,000 crews to come to its aid in restoring eight transmission towers that toppled in the storm.
Despite the power outage in New Orleans, NOBTS will temporarily move to online classes beginning Sept. 7, something not unfamiliar to the seminary from past experience with COVID-19 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Once power is restored to campus and the all clear is given from the city and NOBTS administration, all residential classes will resume on campus.
In a video posted on the seminary’s social media accounts Aug. 31, Dew reassured students of the school’s support and pledged flexibility regarding their needs as they return to class.
“We all need to be thinking about ways to be displaced for a week to three weeks,” Dew said. While the campus buildings fared well, Dew reminded the seminary family the many variables in a situation that remains fluid means that the short term will be “inconvenient.”
The campus is open to students to return to campus and collect belongings needed for the short-term displacement from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this week. Dew cautioned, though, that access roads into the city may be closed. He said in the video that campus residents should check city resources online to find the roads that are open.
Students needing help in finding shelter or who need resources for the next few weeks are encouraged to contact the dean of students at [email protected].
Students face the loss of refrigerated and frozen food as well as limited access to gas for evacuation and sheltering costs. For all that have graciously offered support, you can financially assist students and the school through NOBTS’ donation website.
The campus fared better than expected as the Category 4 storm made landfall with extensive tree damage, shingles gone from roofs, but with no structural damage or flooding.
“These buildings look fantastic,” Dew said in a video posted on social media Aug. 30 and expressed his encouragement at the condition of the campus. Even though the buildings held up to the strong winds and rain, there is still much debris to clean up and damage assessment to take place.
The campus must close at 5 p.m. in order to be secured by nightfall, Dew said. Dew closed the video post with expressions of love, concern, and gratitude for the seminary family.
“Let us know how we can help you,” he said. “We’re grateful for you. The Lord will get us through this.”