Brother and Sister Jesuit Schools in South Feel Impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

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Hurricane Harvey struck the United States in late August, displacing thousands and killing 83 people, according to the Washington Post.

In Houston, the most populous city in Texas and fourth most populous city in the United States, Jesuit high schools Cristo Rey Jesuit and Strake Jesuit were among the thousands affected by the hurricane. Vice President for Mission Ann Holmquist, who communicated with these schools following the hurricane, said, “Both schools themselves received little structural damage, but families have been displaced.”

Principal Frank Kozakowski learned about the hurricane’s effect on Loyola’s fellow Jesuit institutions.

“In total there were about 30 families who had significant damage done to their homes,” Kozakowski said. “However, the schools themselves were able to open almost immediately.”

Holmquist said, “Cristo Rey in particular is so dependent on the local commerce, as Cristo Rey students work one day a week to pay for tuition. Cristo Rey relies on the local economy for the financial support that their students garner for working in the community.”

Strake Jesuit received little damage and was able to open their doors less than a week after the storm.

Florida was hit by Hurricane Irma in early September, affecting thousands and killing over 100. In addition, more than 2,000 Jesuit school students have been affected by the hurricane, including students of Tampa Jesuit and Belen Jesuit. Belen Jesuit received the most structural damage and has yet to reopen.

Kozakowski said, “What [the schools]ultimately need is money, because the logistics of getting clothes and food to there is ridiculous.”

Kozakowski and Holmquist encouraged Loyola students to start brainstorming ideas to raise money for the affected schools. Additionally, Kozakowski stressed the importance of the Jesuit event “Giving Tuesday,” an event on Nov. 27 where Jesuit schools unite with friends and family to help schools with limited funding and resources.

“[These hurricanes] are certainly the “grandest” of all natural disasters and cause the greatest amount of devastation,” Holmquist said.

Within upcoming months, Director of Community Service Tom Zeko and the Community Service Leadership Team will have more updates regarding a planned Houston rebuild.

Zeko, along with other members of the Jesuit Service Directors of the Western Province, attended a meeting in Portland, Oregon, to discuss a wide variety of topics related to community service. Among these ideas was the possibility of a trip to Houston to help rebuild.

“We are working collaboratively to establish programs in June and July and possibly into August. They will not be ready for [minors]until then. There are certain housing and work permits that are needed to be organized,” Zeko said. The Fathers’ Club will help organize parts of the trip.

The hurricane season does not end until Nov. 30. It is predicted that there two or three more hurricanes throughout the Caribbean and Southeast Florida.

“What these families need at this moment are flexible funds—gift cards are something that could help these families out,” Zeko said.

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