Surviving a Big Flood on Campus

As of last week, Teryn Terrell was a marketing major at the University of New Orleans. That college campus is now underwater. Terrell tells Linda Wertheimer that her immediate college prospects — and those of many of her classmates — are fraught with uncertainty.

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LINDA WERTHEIMER, host:

Last week, marketing major Teryn Terrell(ph) was a junior at the University of New Orleans. That campus was situated on the edge of Lake Pontchartrain near the 17th Street levee which was breached on Monday. This week, Ms. Terrell said that UNO...

Ms. TERYN TERRELL (University of New Orleans Student): ...doesn't exist. It's under water.

WERTHEIMER: When you ended classes on Friday before the hurricane, did you have any idea that Katrina was coming?

Ms. TERRELL: No. We have missed every big hurricane that has come through. So we did not even discuss being off of school.

WERTHEIMER: Hmm!

Ms. TERRELL: I went to class. We were given our assignments for Monday and fully expected to be back in class.

WERTHEIMER: We reached you in Baton Rouge. At what point did you get to Baton Route?

Ms. TERRELL: We rode out the entire hurricane. We...

WERTHEIMER: Oh, my goodness. Were you at school?

Ms. TERRELL: No, we were at my fiance's house with my parents right north of New Orleans.

WERTHEIMER: OK.

Ms. TERRELL: It's in Slidell, Louisiana. I was actually laying in bed. I was so scared because all you could hear was just the house cracking and things falling against the house. And it was just--the weather was furious. And finally the hurricane had passed. It was still windy outside and the weather was still bad, but it was fine. We were like celebrating. We were excited because we had a generator and we had electricity. We had--we were just thrilled. And then I looked out the window and I saw that there was a leak in the front yard. And at that point, water started to pour into the house, and we just decided that we have to get out of here. So we got in the car and we were able to cut ourselves out of the neighborhood and we just drove to Baton Route because at that point there were state troopers saying, `Get out, you know? Get out now. It's going to get worse.'

WERTHEIMER: When you say you cut your way out of the neighborhood, what do you mean?

Ms. TERRELL: My fiance took a chain saw and cut his way about two miles, because there's trees down and telephone poles, and he just cut every single tree and telephone pole so we could actually drive a car through and get out of the neighborhood.

WERTHEIMER: What happens to your college education if your university is drowned?

Ms. TERRELL: I wish I knew to tell you the truth. I wish I knew. We--you know, there's just thousands of us. There's--we all don't know what to do. LSU came out yesterday with a press release and they said that UNO plans to try and offer electronic courses starting in October. But who knows if that's going to be true. I mean, nobody knows at this point where New Orleans is going to be in October. So, you know, they're telling us to transfer to other universities. Now the Tennessee universities are accepting registered students, but then you just--do you just pick up and leave?

WERTHEIMER: Teryn Terrell. She was a junior at the University of New Orleans. She lives in Slidell and she is now at her grandmother's house in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Teryn, thanks for taking to us.

Ms. TERRELL: No problem.

WERTHEIMER: It's 22 minutes before the hour.

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