U-M Responds to Hurricane Katrina
September 1, 2005
I have been working on a welcome letter to the University community to celebrate the start of our academic year, but have set that aside to write you about a far more somber matter: the devastation dealt to the Gulf Coast states by Hurricane Katrina. This disaster has destroyed the lives and homes of thousands, and I know you share my sadness and shock at the scenes unfolding hourly in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.
Our campus has not gone untouched by this catastrophe. I hope you will join me in offering sympathy and comfort to friends and colleagues whose families have been affected. This is a natural calamity the likes of which our country has never known, and I ask you to extend support as our co-workers and students help their loved ones to rebuild their lives.
We also have an obligation to assist those in need. I first want to tell you how the University is responding, followed by information about how you can help personally. I also have included a number of University websites at the end of this letter where you can find more information.
The University is reaching out to students, faculty and staff in need:
- Eighty-two U-M students are from areas hit by the hurricane. The Dean of Students’ Office will serve as a coordinating resource so academic units and support systems — including the Office of Financial Aid — are in a position to aid these students. If you need assistance and are not sure where to go for help, please contact the Dean of Students at 764-7420, email@example.com or Assist-Me@umich.edu.
- Counseling & Psychological Services will offer support for students. The Faculty and Staff Assistance Program and the U-M Health System’s Employee Assistance Program will be available to support any faculty and staff who may be affected.
- The Dean of Students’ Office and units such as the Ginsberg Center for Community Service and Learning and the Office of Student Activities & Leadership will be working with student organizations and others in support of fundraising and relief efforts. Also, the Dean of Students’ Office will provide updates on critical incidents, maintain and distribute general information and be prepared to make referrals to other offices as necessary. Details and updates will be posted on the Student Matters and Division of Students Affairs websites.
- We are working with the Association of American Universities to assist students from other universities who have been displaced by the storm. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions has already received several inquiries from students hoping to continue their studies at Michigan until classes can resume at their own universities, and we want to do all we can to assist within our available resources and based on what is in the best interest of the students. Please contact Director of Undergraduate Admissions Ted Spencer at 647-0102 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you are aware of such an inquiry, and he will coordinate the necessary follow up on an individual basis.
- U-M Survival Flight is making itself available to Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, which needs fixed-wing service to transport patients to nearby facilities because it is forced to close. In addition, U-M Health System leadership is participating in an emergency meeting of the Michigan Hospital Association today to determine the most effective ways for hospitals to respond. A number of Health System caregivers are interested in offering their services, and information on how to get involved is forthcoming.
- The U-M football season begins Saturday, and we will take the opportunity to ask our 112,000 fans at Michigan Stadium to help with relief aid. The Department of Intercollegiate Athletics will broadcast calls for support on the large-screen scoreboards and public address system, and volunteers with the American Red Cross will be accepting donations around the perimeter of the stadium.
- The local Association of Religious Counselors is providing support if needed.
- The School of Social Work will hold a silent auction all of next week to raise relief funds. The auction will be coordinated by students, faculty and staff. Items can be viewed in McGregor Commons until Sept. 9, and the School is still collecting items for bidding.
- The Doctoral Program in Anthropology and History has arranged to host a professor from Tulane University’s History Department. He will be at U-M for an undetermined amount of time, from about September 21.
- We are contacting alumni in the affected states to offer our support and share with them the news of relief efforts on campus.
Devastation of this magnitude overwhelms us with grief, but also motivates us to do all we can for those affected by the tragedy. Here in Ann Arbor, the Washtenaw County chapter of the American Red Cross is asking for volunteers to help staff phone lines and process cash donations. Volunteers also are needed for hardship assignments of two to three weeks that will take them to the devastated areas; volunteers must be at least 18 and undergo a 10-hour training course.
The local office also is in need of donations of blood and cash for the Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund. To volunteer or donate, call 971-5300 or visit the chapter’s website.
Another local organization, the Washtenaw chapter of the Salvation Army, is seeking donations of money and is taking names of potential volunteers; there are no age restrictions and no training time is required. You may contact the Salvation Army at 668-8353, or send an email to: email@example.com
Because the situation throughout the Gulf Coast region is so unstable, the Federal Emergency Management Agency is discouraging people from traveling on their own to the region to help. Rather, FEMA is advising people to show their support by making cash donations to voluntary organizations. You can find these organizations on FEMA’s website.
I want to thank you in advance for your support and understanding during this unsettling time. If you have additional information, please share it with me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make it available to the community.
Mary Sue Coleman
Resources for Students, Faculty and Staff