Hurricane Harvey has impacts on Duquesne community

Kaye Burnet | Staff Writer
Nicole Marshall, a senior at Duquesne, shows a photo of family friends participating in a clean up in the Houston area. Marshall is one of more than 50 Duquesne students from Houston. Duquesne launched an online crowdfunding site to raise money to help clean the $180 million worth of damage Harvey did to Texas.

Kaye Burnet | Staff Writer

“If I was still there, I would definitely have been flooded.”

Duquesne senior psychology student and army veteran Nicole Marshall lived in Houston for a total of 13 years, from the ages of nine to 17, then as an adult from 2010 to 2015. In that time, she lived in the Clear Lake, Pearland, Cyprus and Katy areas around the city. During the flooding from Hurricane Harvey, all four of those neighborhoods were underwater to some extent.

Although Marshall stayed safe and dry here in Pittsburgh during the storm, her friends and family back in Houston all experienced moderate to severe flooding, with few exceptions.

“Out of all the people I know there, only two didn’t get flooded,” Marshall said. “My next door neighbor had five feet of water in their house and had to be rescued from the roof.”

Marshall is just one of more than 50 current Duquesne students from the Houston area, according to University President Ken Gormley. There are also more than 250 Duquesne alumni living in and around the city, he said.

“Everyone in the whole country has a responsibility to care when a natural disaster occurs like this,” Gormley said. “But Duquesne has so many ties to the area…the immediate impulse is to ask, ‘How can I help?’”

To help the Duquesne community answer that question, President Gormley worked with Vice President of University Advancement John Plante, Campus Ministry, the Faculty Senate, and the Student Government Association to set up a crowdfunding site. Proceeds will go to Catholic Charities in the Galveston-Houston and to “Magnificat Houses,” shelters run for the homeless by Spiritan priests which Gormley says are currently being overwhelmed with requests for help. At publication, more than 300 donors had contributed almost $30,000.

According to Gormley, the funds will go directly toward meeting basic needs for hurricane victims, such as clothing, food, water and shelter.

“[The crowdfunding initiative] happened spontaneously in about an hour,” Gormley said. “This is one way we can do something that would be immediately helpful and show that we really do care…It’s amazing that from 1300 miles away, there is something that you can do.”

In addition to the crowdfunding initiative, which donors can access online at www.spirit.duq.edu, University Provost Timothy Austin is looking into the possibility of accepting Texas college students displaced by the storm at Duquesne, Gormley said. This was something the Duquesne law school did for law students who were victims of Hurricane Katrina.

According to SGA President Olivia Erickson, she received an email on August 29 from Vice President for University Advancement John Plante asking if the SGA would co-sponsor the crowdfunding initiative, along with Campus Ministry and the Faculty Senate. Erickson agreed; however, the SGA has not taken any official steps to promote the initiative, nor do they have any immediate plans to do so. According to Erickson, individual members of the SGA have promoted the crowdfunding site on their own.

“I know there are senators sharing it on their own Facebook and social media accounts,” Erickson said.

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