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DR. BETTY REYNARD — Students return to Lamar State following hurricane

It appears you can count on two things nearly every semester at Lamar State College Port Arthur … first, there’s going to be a natural catastrophe that causes a delay to the start of classes and, second, our students, faculty and staff battle past those challenges, coming out the other side better than they were before.

In the past, we’ve dealt with hurricanes, floods, snow and an ongoing worldwide pandemic.

The most recent struggle came with the arrival of Hurricane Laura. We started classes on Monday, Aug. 24, only to face the cancellation of classes and evacuation for Laura.

True to their dedication to educational goals, our students, faculty and staff returned to pick up the pieces and get classes going again on Tuesday, Sept. 8.

This first week has been different as we adjust to face-to-face interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the underlying excitement is undeniable.

Students rushed from one class to the next and even with masks covering their faces, you could sense the smiles on our faculty’s faces.

Even as things return to “normal” after the most recent storm, it’s important to understand that we are still in the peak point of hurricane season.

The college has a committee of faculty and staff members whose job it is to make sure the campus is ready for any emergency situation, whether it be natural or man-made.

Likewise, members of our community must not let down their guard as new tropical waves churn in the Atlantic off the coast of Africa. Every weather system has the potential to make its way into the Gulf of Mexico and affect our lives.

Port Arthur and Southeast Texas were fortunate that Hurricane Laura didn’t bring the impact felt by our neighbors in Louisiana.

We were spared the worst part of the storm. Please don’t let that moment of Mother Nature’s mercy lull you into a sense of complacency.

If another storm enters the Gulf and we are warned to evacuate, do so. We were lucky with Laura. It wasn’t so long ago that we weren’t as lucky with Harvey … or Rita … or Ike … or any number of other storms that devastated the region and took the lives of our residents.

At Lamar State College Port Arthur, we follow the guidance of our elected leaders. When they recommend, or mandate, evacuation, we close our campus in order to allow our students and employees the chance to move to safety.

Property can be replaced. Lives cannot.

We are proud of the response of our community during the latest hurricane. We have learned from our past mistakes, become a more responsive and responsible community, and no doubt that has resulted in lives saved.

We pray for our friends in Louisiana. And we pray for our future safety in Southeast Texas.

Dr. Betty Reynard is president of Lamar State College Port Arthur. She can be contacted at reynardbj@lamarpa.edu.