Hurricane Harvey did not spare Lydian Green’s house, her family’s cars, or many of their belongings as it struck Texas in late August and early September.
The sophomore — who is from the Houston suburbs — was already on campus when the flooding hit, and though she was safe, she felt the weight of being away from her community.
But like other students from where the storm raged, Green found support in her community here.
“So many of my fellow students have asked me how I’m doing and if my family is safe, and it’s really meant a lot to see how many people care and remember where I’m from,” she said.
Green’s case is a part of larger efforts by students, UR, and the Rochester community to help victims of Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and other recent or impending disasters. One effort underway is a partnership between the Burgett Intercultural Center, some Greek life groups, students from the River and Eastman campuses, and local organizations to put on a benefit concert in late October.
The show would feature local and campus bands, and all proceeds would go toward relief charities. And, organizers said, students will be encouraged to take winter and spring breaks to work in suffering spots.
In a smaller but no less meaningful act for Green, members of In Between the Lines, the improv troupe Green belongs to, surprised her with a dinner. And the school’s CARE Network, which reached out to affected students, connected her with her financial aid officer.
“My Yellowjacket family has certainly made me feel less alone and for that I am eternally thankful,” she said.
Dean of Students Matthew Burns told the Campus Times that the University has a set process for responding to “a major national disaster or even a man-made disaster.”
The school sends a generic email to students, faculty, and staff from an affected area and follows up with personal emails about family finances and students’ future at UR.
“We’re not going to dictate to you what you have to do or what you want to do — we’re going help you do it,” Burns said. “But we may make some suggestions in terms of how might do that most effectively.”
Roxana Kazemi, sophomore from near the Addicks Reservoir in Houston, appreciated the schoolwide email.
“Glad to hear they’re taking part in relief efforts,” she said of the University, though she added that she wished the response had come more quickly.
Kazemi said her home is fine, but that her family was still not back to work and had been trapped inside for awhile.
University President Joel Seligman released a statement on August 28 encouraging donations toward relief efforts.
“Our hearts go out to the people of southeast Texas, including our Rochester alumni, who are currently dealing with the traumatic impacts of Hurricane Harvey and widespread flooding,” he said. “The University has many students, faculty and staff who come from the affected area, so please keep them in your thoughts as they deal with these events from afar.”