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Hurricane evacuees fill campus gymnasium

Released: 09/16/2004

LSU Alexandria this week became a temporary home for nearly 30 special-needs patients seeking shelter from Hurricane Ivan. The 29 patients with medical needs, along with their personal caregivers, began arriving at the gymnasium late Tuesday night as the hurricane threatened the Gulf Coast. By Thursday afternoon, most had left or were awaiting ambulances or other transportation back home. In all, 55 people stayed in the gymnasium, set up with cots, food, medical supplies and other items to make their stay more comfortable. LSU Alexandria typically opens its doors to hurricane evacuees, and those who came from South Louisiana and Mississippi were happy to have a place to stay. “I want to say thank you and how much I appreciate it,” said Doris Michel, 71, of Chalmette, who hasn’t been able to care for herself since she broke her leg in January. Michel arrived at the shelter around dawn Wednesday and said she enjoyed the 24-hour care she got in the gymnasium. Kate Nye, also from Chalmette, said the accommodations were so nice that she forgot she was in a gymnasium. “I told my daughter-in-law who is a policeman that we were treated like kings and queens here,” she said. Dr. John Naponick, medical director and administrator for the Region 6 Office of Public Health, commended the community partners and volunteers who made sure the shelter ran smoothly. “I want to thank Dr. Cavanaugh for making us feel at home,” Naponick said. Campus officials were responsible for supplying the building, electricity, telecommunications, food and “everything we needed to do this.”