Hurricanes Irma, Harvey affect students’ move-in plans, devastate hometowns


Source: Elaine Parizot

Weinberg senior Elaine Parizot’s father (middle) and neighbors help rescue stranded residents in Houston with their personal boats. Parizot’s neighborhood flooded after Hurricane Harvey caused Houston’s two reservoirs to overflow.

Allie Goulding, Photo Editor

As Hurricane Irma approached Florida, Weinberg freshman Kamryn Moe scrambled to pack her belongings — her new flight to Chicago was scheduled to leave in just five hours.

Moe and her parents changed their flight plans so they could avoid the hurricane and make it to move-in day. When Hurricane Irma hit their hometown of Naples, Florida, on Sept. 10, Moe watched news coverage from her parents’ hotel room at the Holiday Inn in Evanston.

“It’s absolutely unreal watching everything happen in Naples right now,” Moe said Sept. 10. “Even though I’m in a safe place and a safe city, I can’t help but want to be home with my dad and my best friends that are still there.”

Moe moved in to Shepard Hall on Sept. 7. She was one of about a dozen incoming students from Florida who moved in before the regular Sept. 11 move-in date, Dean of Students Todd Adams told The Daily in an email.

Source: Kamryn Moe
A large tree fell outside Weinberg freshman Kamryn Moe’s home in Naples, Florida, after Hurricane Irma hit the city on Sept. 10. Moe moved into her residential hall early to avoid the storm.

Just 16 days prior to Hurricane Irma’s landfall, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on Aug. 25, devastating the Texas coast and Houston area.

More than 1,000 miles away in Chicago, Weinberg senior Elaine Parizot could only watch as her hometown of Houston was devastated by the hurricane. Parizot said the hurricane left her childhood home submerged in two feet of water.

She said it was stressful being out of town while her home began to flood because she only got “sporadic” updates from her parents.

“(I would get) a picture and text saying, ‘The water just started coming in,’ and then no response for five hours because they were busy running around trying to get prepared,” Parizot said.

Parizot flew home to Houston after her summer internship ended to see her family, but she had an added responsibility — to help clean up the flooded first floor.

“It’s exhausting and tiring, but it’s better to be with my family and know exactly what’s going on,” Parizot said.

She said many of her neighbors have had to find cheap housing quickly, and she may not have a bed in Houston until the spring.

“When you’re out in the neighborhood and seeing all the damage and sad people, you can’t just go home and tune it out because right now, it’s not really safe to be in your home,” Parizot said.

Parizot said her family had to pay for the damages caused by the hurricane out of pocket, so they reached out to the University’s Office of Financial Aid because they had concerns about paying tuition.

University Director of Financial Aid Phil Asbury told The Daily in an email that Northwestern will “help where and when there is an overlap with the ability to pay educational costs” as the hardships faced by families “might impact their ability to fund educationally related costs.”

Source: Elaine Parizot
After returning home from her summer internship, Weinberg senior Elaine Parizot found her entire first floor flooded due to Hurricane Harvey. Parizot helped her parents clear out first floor, piling up flooring, walls and their destroyed belongings outside.

For the first time in history, two Category 4 Atlantic hurricanes made landfall in the United States in the same year. Hurricane Irma made its first landfall Sept. 10 as a Category 4 storm in the Florida Keys before turning north and making its second landfall as a Category 3 storm.

Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane near Corpus Christi, Texas, the hometown of McCormick junior Muhammed Patel.

Patel said he is no stranger to hurricane evacuations — he had to evacuate four times before Hurricane Harvey. But his town had never been directly affected, he said.

“When we were in McAllen (about 150 miles away) and seeing on the news that we were in fact getting hit full-force, it was a little bit worrying because it had never really happened before,” Patel said. “I was worried about my home and my community, but in the end it all turned out alright.”

Patel and his family returned to Corpus Christi on Aug. 26 after the majority of the hurricane passed to find his house and community in “pretty good shape,” Patel said.

More than 250 NU students have a permanent address of Houston, the surrounding suburbs or gulf coast locations, Adams told The Daily in an email.

The University is offering support through Counseling and Psychological Services, the Dean of Students Office and Religious and Spiritual Life, according to an email Patricia Telles-Irvin, vice president for student affairs, sent to the NU community.

Parizot knows her family will be OK emotionally, she said, but it will be arduous to demolish and then remodel half of her home.

Parizot said she and her parents gutted their first floor, piling the wooden debris outside the house. Despite managing to save furniture and photos, she said they had to throw out their piano, old Disney VHS tapes and childhood keepsakes.

Her family will be picking up the pieces left by Hurricane Harvey for months to come, Parizot said.

“My family’s plan is to come back (to Houston), and it’s going to take time,” she said. “It’s a rebuilding process from now on.”

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