The start of Andy Dunn’s freshman year at Tulane University has been washed away – literally.
Dunn was sheltering in place in a dorm on the New Orleans campus when Hurricane Ida hit with its powerful winds and drenching rain.
“The winds were 150 mph at one point,” said Andy, the son of Viola residents Daryl and Dot Dunn. “Windows were shattering and roofs were being ripped off. There wasn’t a time where I thought, ‘This is it. This is where it all ends.’ But it did get pretty scary for a while.”
The damage inflicted by Hurricane Ida was widespread. Power had been restored to about 75% of New Orleans and nearly all of Baton Rouge, officials told the Associated Press earlier this week.
Andy and three of his friends were able to ride out the storm in a second-floor dorm room with only one window, and that window wasn’t facing the harsh wind.
“We were going to shelter in place and ride it out,” said Andy, “then it went from a Category 1 to a Category 4 in a matter of hours. Tulane likes to say it’s more prepared than the city of New Orleans itself. We still had power and sewer until about 1 p.m. Monday (Aug. 30). That’s when we lost our lights and AC.”
All the students who remained at Tulane were evacuated to Houston, Texas after the storm. Students were allowed to stay at a Marriott Marquis.
“We left town in a fleet of nine buses,” said Andy. “It wasn’t total destruction but there was definitely destruction. The school paid for the buses and all our food. I stayed one night in Texas and flew back to Tennessee on Wednesday.”
Dunn, 18, had been at Tulane 11 days before the hurricane hit. He says according to the university’s current plan, virtual classes are scheduled to resume at Tulane on Sept. 13. In-person classes are scheduled to resume Oct. 7.
“All that could be moved up and we could go back sooner depending on how things go,” said Andy.
His mother Dot was eager to point out September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Andy was diagnosed with cancer as a small child and spent much time at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital. Andy says he’s had no sign of disease for 11 years.