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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

Third most destructive hurricane affects Sea Aggies

In the Class of 2009’s final year on campus, one of the worst natural disasters to hit the region struck, interrupting the lives of some students and closing a Texas A&M campus for a semester.
Hurricane Ike, the third most-destructive hurricane in recorded history, killed nearly 200, and caused an estimated $32 billion in damage across its path from the Caribbean through to the Gulf Coast in about a week.
“Ike was definitely a difficult experience to go through,” said Travis Kolaja, a senior university studies of architecture major. “No one ever really wants to witness the shear damage that nature can wreak upon a town, let alone upon the homes of friends and loved ones.”
The Aggie community stepped up to help those affected by the storm, he said. “I feel like the Aggie spirit as a whole really kicked into high gear when it was necessary in helping with the evacuation as well as making sure we were hospitable to students that were displaced by the storm,” Kolaja said.
Hurricane Ike shifted in intensity as it moved toward the Texas coast, falling to a strong Category 2 storm. Yet the storm had a breadth stretching 600 miles, as it struck land with a wall of water that reached as high as 20 feet.
Before landfall, President George W. Bush ordered a state of emergency for the area expected to face the brunt of the storm, and mandatory evacuations were ordered for the Galveston Island and parts of the mainland.
Texas A&M at Galveston, like much of the island, did not escape from the wrath of Ike, with the University forced to shut down the campus for the remainder of the semester. Damages were reported by an auditor to be $12.4 million, and more than 1,100 students and faculty were displaced.
Many of the students were moved to College Station to finish the semester. University President Elsa A. Murano asked for students and members of the community to volunteer housing for the Galveston students, allowing them to move to College Station without incurring any additional costs.
“Even though we are still a part of A&M, [A&M Galveston Students] are still separated, but it was nice to experience College Station,” said Kelsey Droll, a freshman marine biology major at A&M-Galveston. “Hurricane Ike allowed us to do that so I actually enjoyed it.”
Droll said she and her friends from Galveston made friends while in College Station that they still keep in touch with and visit occasionally.
Classes resumed in Galveston in the spring, and things have begun to return to normal. Immediately after the storm, though, Sea Aggies returned to a much different home when they went back for their belongings after Ike.
“It was hard going back. I did not even know where I was when we were first driving through because nothing was recognizable,” Droll said. “There was a beautiful field with palm trees, and when I saw it on the way back, [clean-up officials] had put all the smashed cars there, it had become a junkyard.”
In an effort to help normalize life again, sand was brought in to refill the beach and Droll said that it has had a drastic effect on the morale of the students.
Though Ike’s damage was costly, financially and emotionally, for those affected, its silver lining was that the Aggie Spirit shined in a tough time.
“A&M is like the small town I’ve always wanted to live in; when one home is hit, the entire town comes out and helps. That’s exactly what I saw after Ike; Aggies saw the need and met it,” said Jamie Kietzke, a sophomore sports management major. “It swelled up the pride I have being a part of this campus and I know that my Aggie family is there when troubled times come.”

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