ALL SOWELA CAMPUSES CLOSED UNTIL AT LEAST MONDAY, September 14 — Officials with SOWELA Technical Community College in Lake Charles have announced that all three campuses in Southwest Louisiana will be closed until at least Monday, September 14 due to significant storm damage caused by Hurricane Laura. In addition to the campus closures, all classes (including hybrid and online) will be paused during this time. The closures will allow SOWELA students and employees to assess any damages to personal property as well as provide assistance and care to their families.
SOWELA officials have launched a storm damage assessment, and preliminary photos and videos from the campus indicate significant roof damage to several of the college's 13 buildings located on the Lake Charles campus, according to a release from the school. The SOWELA Lake Charles campus is located northeast of the city next to the Chennault Airport which at the height of the storm recorded wind gusts of nearly 100 mph.
Officials believe there is minimal damage to its Oakdale site which houses programs such as Forest Technology, Industrial Instrumentation Technology, and Practical Nursing. Furthermore, initial reports indicate that the Morgan Smith Instructional Site in Jennings was spared any significant damage.
"The SOWELA campus has suffered catastrophic damage; however, after a weeklong assessment process, at least five of the 13 buildings can be brought back online and be ready for use within the next month. Other buildings which have suffered more severe damage will be properly secured and the rebuilding process will begin immediately," said SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall. "Although the campus has extensive damage, the SOWELA spirit remains strong and we will rebuild and be even stronger than before the storm.
SOWELA officials are asking all students, faculty and staff to check in via the "Weather Update" links provided on www.sowela.edu. Officials add they will communicate updates over the next several days with the school's 3,800 students and 250 staff and faculty through its emergency text system, social media and www.sowela.edu. SOWELA's email servers experienced an outage due to the storm, but officials are currently attempting to restore it with generator power.
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