Education

William Carey University recovering, but has a long way to go

A statue of Christ stands amid debris from a tornado that did extensive damage at William Carey University in Hattiesburg on Saturday.
A statue of Christ stands amid debris from a tornado that did extensive damage at William Carey University in Hattiesburg on Saturday. jclark@sunherald.com File

The first group of students returned to William Carey University’s Hattiesburg campus after Saturday’s EF-3 tornado, which destroyed portions of the campus.

But it wasn’t to return to class.

Thursday, the students returned to retrieve their belongings. Retrieval will continue through Saturday, Overton said. The campus houses 800 students.

Several William Carey students were injured in the storm, including freshman Taylor Gautreaux, who lost three fingers on her right hand. Gautreaux was trying to close the door to her dorm when the wind from the twister slammed it shut, smashing her fingers, WDAM-TV reported.

Mia Overton, spokeswoman for the university, has been updating the Carey website on how recovery efforts are going.

Damage in Hattiesburg after tornado Video by John Fitzhugh/Sun Herald

School officials hope to restart classes in borrowed space at the University of Southern Mississippi or at Pearl River Community College while the campus is repaired, she said.

The school will notify students of the status of online classes and locations where face-to-face classes will meet. Overton said the school is working to make sure students will have computers and internet access to participate in classes that are moved online.

Many lost their computers during the tornado, she said.

By Thursday, power had been restored to most of the campus. An internal phone system has been set up for students and faculty. The main William Carey line is working, although the school cannot receive calls from off campus, Overton said. On Tuesday, the campus set up temporary wireless internet that allowed offices to get back online to process student requests, spring registration and payments.

Overton said not everyone has internet access because the information technology department is still working to inventory computers.

Classes, dorms

Registration for spring classes has been extended a week. There will be no late-registration fees for the spring trimester, Overton said.

The school posted on its website a schedule for when students can retrieve their possessions from their dorm.

“Please plan to remove all personal belongings from your room,” the website says. “If you have instruments in Thomas Hall you may get them while you are on campus. You may make arrangements to get your car or have it towed during your assigned time on campus. The university will tow cars to the parking lot of the School of Business and you may get your cars there.”

Polk-Bryant-Bass Hall: Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Ross Hall, Penton Apartments: Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Johnson Hall: Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

A mailroom is being set up in Lawrence Hall. Students will be notified when they can pick up mail.

Athletics

William Carey athletes moved into the University of Southern Mississippi’s Wilber Dorm and resumed practice. A modified home schedule may be released Friday. The athletic department is working to reschedule several home games in basketball, baseball and softball.

“We are encouraging the public to come out and cheer on the Crusaders,” Overton said.

Prayer service

The school plans a “Carey Strong” service Friday at Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg. It will be a time for the Carey family and friends to come together for encouragement, determination, information, fellowship and worship, Overton said.

Rose Harrell of Hattiesburg describes when tornado went through her neighborhood. Video by John Fitzhugh/Sun Herald

Justin Vicory: 228-896-2326, @justinvicory

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