Carolina Seeking to Help Hurricane Katrina Survivors

Students, staff and faculty are looking for ways to assist those who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina, both on campus and off. Ideas for helping survivors, along with various offers of goods and services, have been pouring into the Carolina Center for Public Service. For now, though, the University is working to assess the need and the best response.

“We want to be careful not to send help that’s going to be more of a burden than help,” said Lynn Blanchard ’85 (MPH, ’90 PhD), director of the Carolina Center for Public Service. “I think all of us feel that this is going to take a sustained and thoughtful response and that we need to be in this for the long haul because these communities are going to need help for a very long time.”

One of the University’s first official responses came late Thursday when Chancellor James Moeser announced that residents of North Carolina that are currently enrolled in a school closed as a result of Katrina can enroll temporarily at UNC on a space-available basis.

“We have received numerous requests from students and their parents who are trying to find a way to continue their educations under very difficult circumstances,” Moeser said. “We feel a special obligation to North Carolinians. Our great hope is that our sister institutions affected by the hurricane will be able to recover and reopen soon. But in the meantime, we will do everything we can to help their students.”

On Friday, admissions officials said they were unsure how many students the University would be able to enroll. Students hoping to take advantage of the offer must contact the Office of Undergraduate Admissions before 5 p.m. on Sept. 7.

UNC Counseling and Psychological Services is providing assistance to members of the campus community who have been affected by the hurricane. The Campus Y and the campus chapter of the American Red Cross are meeting with other campus groups to coordinate their assistance. The GAA is working with Carolina Clubs nationwide to determine how best to assist the affected communities, including the nearly 3,000 alumni who live in areas that were hit. Several clubs already have indicated that helping survivors of the hurricane will be the focus of their upcoming Tar Heel Service Day projects in October.

In a letter to faculty, staff and students, Moeser stated that sending money to the agencies that are providing direct humanitarian aid to the victims might be the most effective way to respond initially, until the needs are fully assessed.

“I also ask that you let the Center for Public Service know of any efforts you or your campus organizations undertake,” Moeser wrote. “If we work together, we can be more effective in our response.”

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