Southeastern NEWS Southeastern Louisiana University Public Information Office firstname.lastname@example.org SLU 880, Hammond, LA 70402 504/549-2341/fax 504-549-2061 Date: 9/25/98 Contact: Christina Chapple UNO STUDENTS SEEK SHELTER FROM "GEORGES" AT SLU HAMMOND -- Until recently, when the Southeastern Louisiana University Bookstore moved to new quarters in the Student Union, the huge seal on the tiled floor of its old home on the east side of SLU's Strawberry Stadium was obscured by merchandise shelving and clothing racks. As of Saturday night, the seal was covered again, this time by sleeping bags, blankets, baggage, even a small domed tent. The big room, emptied by the bookstore's move, was peopled by almost 200 students from the University of New Orleans who had been chased out of New Orleans by Hurricane Georges. As Georges began tracking toward the Gulf Coast last week, Southeastern and UNO officials began talking about housing UNO's storm refugees on the Hammond campus. The plans were firmed up Thursday, when the storm's track drew a bead on Louisiana. UNO loaded up four bus loads of students from its dorms, apartment complex and married students' facilities -- some of them with children, including two babies -- and headed to Hammond on Saturday. With the University Center occupied by Southeastern's own dormitory evacuees and area refugees, the empty bookstore, built in the early 50s as the university's first Student Union, seemed like a logical temporary quarters for the UNO guests. "The hospitality here has been great," Ernestine Montgomery, UNO's director of career placement, said, as she relaxed on a bench outside the former bookstore's columned portico while the sun was still shining on Sunday. She said the UNO contingent arrived on campus around 7 p.m., Saturday, after a bumper-to-bumper commute from New Orleans. The students and supervising officials such as Montgomery, UNO Health Services Director Lucy Gallese and Residence Halls Manager Corey Cole found their quarters comfortable, if not luxurious, and were vocal about their gratitude for Southeastern's cooperation and attention. "It has just been outstanding," Montgomery said. Southeastern made shower facilities in the nearby Athletic Building available to the visitors, as well as bathroom facilities in next door Clark Hall. During the calm before the storm, the students walked over to the university cafeteria for meals, where Aramark, which provides food services to both Southeastern and UNO, fed them on steak, chicken -- "even ice cream!", said Montgomery. President Sally Clausen, Vice President for Student Affairs Patsy Causey and Visual Arts Department chairman Roy Blackwood were among the Southeastern administrators who came by to check on the evacuees. "I think we did the right thing coming here," said Gallese, who left her husband, daughter and granddaughter behind in the city to accompany the UNO students to Hammond, said,. Many of these students are international students, who've never been through a hurricane. I went through Camille, so I'm fearful." Lounging around on the ballroom floor, students said they had spent Saturday night playing cards, reading, sleeping and talking, even dancing. Andre Wilson, a freshman from Shreveport, said he had boarded the evacuation bus after missing a ride out of the city with his roommate. "I didn't know what to bring, so I'm having to borrow blankets and stuff," Wilson said. "So far everything's pretty good, but these floors are hard!" Seated around him, Daphne Gettis of Mobile, Omeshia Kirby of Houston, Texas, and Nhaah, who is from Atlanta, said their stay in Hammond was "kind of like camping out." "My dad was ready to come down and get me," Kirby said, "but my mom told him I would be okay, just for me to pack everything I need and be careful." "We don't have hurricanes in Shreveport, so I kinda wanted to see what it was like," Wilson said. "I don't like it!" "The students are being good sports. They're taking as good an attitude as you can expect," Gallese said. She added that the UNO contingent realized that the old bookstore might be "home" for a number of days, until they get the all-clear to return to their own campus. "We're just trying not to contemplate what could happen," she said.