St. Paul’s Remembers Katrina Campus Devastation

Jefferson Ave., on the west side of campus, was unrecognizable on Aug. 29, 2005, littered with trees and power lines, which forced those who took refuge on campus during the storm to remain on campus and await rescue workers to cut a path.
(photo by campus refugee, Christi Simoneaux)

(COVINGTON, La.) — On the upcoming tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting the Gulf Coast, St. Paul’s School looks back at the devastation the storm created, changing the culture of the school forever.

“Katrina was very depressing, and very difficult,” school President Brother Ray Bulliard, FSC, said. “Many electrical repairs, phone repairs, road repairs, and building repairs needed to be made after Katrina.”

SPS acted very generously after the storm, letting people stay in the dorms of LaSalle Hall, which had not yet been renovated for classroom use.

“We had something that people wanted: dormitories with showers, beds, and facilities,” said Bro. Ray. This allowed many people around the area to temporarily stay on campus, including CLECO workers, which permitted St. Paul’s to regain electricity significantly faster than other schools in the community.

St. Paul’s Wolf Dome sits under three trees after the storm blew past. Other campus buildings mangled by the storm included the Alumni Memorial Theatre and Band Room, which have since been repaired. Most campus buidings, however, were spared despite losing nearly 200 trees across campus. (Photo by Christi Simoneaux)

“We didn’t know when we would be able to open up again, if ever,” Bro. Ray said. “Our whole area would never be the same.”

Getting off the campus was even a challenge. Many members of the St. Paul’s community took refuge in various buildings on campus during the storm and were stuck on campus for two days until paths could be opened up to exit St. Paul’s.

“You couldn’t drive on the streets because of the near 200 trees down,” Bro. Ray said, “It was a very scary time period.”

Prior to Katrina hitting, SPS had 756 students. After the school reopened and numerous displaced families started to migrate into the Covington area, the school “zoomed up to 865 students,” said Bro. Ray.

According to Bro. Ray, St. Paul’s came back stronger than ever, and by God’s will, it was spared from destruction of the campus, keeping the Wolf Pack alive and thriving.

As the school approaches the 10th anniversary of Katrina on Aug. 29, Bro. Ray says to expect the school to commemorate the storm on campus.

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