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ISSUE 119 VOL 1 PUBLISHED 9/16/2005

Aiding Katrina victims: Hurricane relief efforts start at home

By Tim Rehborg
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 16, 2005

On Aug. 28, Clara Hemsteter ‘08 evacuated her dormitory at Loyola University in New Orleans. She left with only her laptop computer, clarinet and the clothes she was wearing.

After navigating the crowded highways filled with evacuees, she was able to find internet access at a café in Baton Rouge, where she e-mailed officials at St. Olaf.

Two weeks later, she arrived on campus, admitted under a special student status due to the disaster in the South. "It’s a threat we’ve always managed to cheat," Hemsteter said of Hurricane Katrina which led to the evacuation of over a million people in New Orleans and other areas in Mississippi and Louisiana.

St. Olaf community members are making many efforts to help those displaced in the South. With the evacuation of several major schools in the affected area, St. Olaf has received other inquiries from students, but has received only one student as of yet.

The Registrar’s, Residence Life and Business offices are collaborating to make students displaced by Katrina feel welcome and at home at St. Olaf. Students are encouraged to lend a helping hand to visiting students, especially in welcoming and showing them around.

In Hemsteter's case, most of her personal belongings are trapped in her fourth-floor room, due to extreme flooding in New Orleans. Although she arrived with a few winter clothes she had left at her family’s home in Hammond, La., a northern suburb of New Orleans, many St. Olaf institutions are lending a helping hand.

The Residence Life office is providing her with bedding and towels for her room in Larson, and the bookstore is donating a gift card, to which people can donate money in order for her to purchase books, clothing and other necessary items.

Students can help the relief efforts in other ways as well. People affected by the hurricane are in dire need of everything from undergarments to food and medicine.

"People have nothing," Hemsteter, experiencing this need firsthand, said. "Absolutely nothing. Katrina has destroyed so much; they need everything."

Donations can be made to the American Red Cross ( or through the St. Olaf Business office, which will forward donations to the American Red Cross. The Lutheran Disaster Response ( is also accepting donations, and Thrivent Financial Aid for Lutherans will match these donations.

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