Tornado Damage Forces Shaw University to Suspend Classes

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Shaw University, the first historically black school of higher learning, has canceled its classes for the remainder of the semester following damage sustained by a tornado on April 16. The school, founded in 1865, dismissed students for the semester on Monday as structural damage to its dormitories and to the student union building forced the university to close the school.

Raleigh Tornado

Located in Raleigh, N.C., Shaw University was just one of countless numbers of schools, businesses and homes damaged or destroyed as a series of tornadoes swept through the Tarheel State on Saturday. Those storms left at least 22 people dead and included one tornado that stayed on the ground for more than 60 miles. That tornado pummeled a Lowe’s hardware store in Sanford before moving north through Holley Springs, Garner and onto Raleigh.

Shaw president Irma McClaurin decided to close the school to tend to repairs, telling students that they would be graded for work done to date. Shaw seniors will graduate as planned on May 7 at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh. Former Congressman Bob Etheridge has agreed to give the commencement address.

Emergency Response

Following the storm which swept across the campus around 4 p.m., university officials, volunteers and city emergency crews arrived to assess the damage. On Sunday morning, following a more extensive review of the campus buildings, administrators realized that the school grounds were unsafe. Broken class littered dorm rooms which also sustained water damage, ruining students’ clothing and their possessions. Structural problems with several buildings and numerous uprooted trees have create a safety hazard, thus the decision by Dr. McClaurin to shut the school.

Shaw’s summer session is weeks away from starting and it, too, may have to be canceled. The university may offer classes online only if the campus is not ready to receive students. The school expects to reopen in August in time for the fall semester.

Displaced Students

Displaced students found temporary housing at nearby Southeast Raleigh High School, at local hotels or stayed with nearby friends and family members. The university has asked airlines to offer discounts to help students return home early, with some coming from as far as California to attend Shaw.

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Categories: Campus News