Children at LSU-based summer program evacuated to Houston

Tracking Barry

DALLAS (AP) — (7/13/19) More than 120 students participating in a Louisiana summer program were evacuated to Texas to escape Tropical Storm Barry.

Students were bused out of the program at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge and arrived at Rice University in Houston early Friday morning.

Sixteen-year-old Savannah Hooks said the evacuation started out as an “inconvenience,” but she now views it as part of an “adventure.”

The Winter Haven, Florida, teen is among the high-achieving middle and high school students enrolled in the Duke University Talent Identification Program.

Rice officials offered to help because it had campus housing available and because of the school’s proximity to Louisiana — Houston is about 260 miles (418 kilometers) southwest of Baton Rouge.

Hooks arrived at LSU on Sunday and is taking a college-level class on myths and legends. She said that by the middle of the week she heard a storm was expected, but she thought it would be fine to stay. On Thursday, they were told they’d be evacuated that night.

“It had actually started raining while we were packing and then it kind of subsided but you can definitely tell that there’s something coming,” she said. “I live in Florida, I know pre-hurricane weather.”

Parents were given the option to retrieve their children from LSU, but with the students coming from all over the country, only a couple students left the program, according to Shawna Young, executive director of the Duke program.

Nikhil Kumar’s 13-year-old daughter Reena is studying neuropsychology at the program. He and his wife were initially concerned that the kids would be in the direct path of the storm.

But once officials communicated the plans to move, Kumar said they felt more assured. They now plan to have Reena finish classes in the three-week program.

Officials at Rice, which also hosts the Duke program, said the campus would be available for the evacuated students to finish their course if significant flooding occurs in the Baton Rouge area.


Grabenstein reported from Little Rock, Arkansas.

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