Damage from storm disrupts lives of students

While many students prepared to start the week, violent winds and rain shook San Antonio late on Sunday night. The National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed that a tornado touched down near the Quarry Market.

Several students were personally affected by the tornado. First-year Spanish and international business major, Katherine Donovan’s family home was in the path of the storm and was damaged by the tornado.

“There is a large tree in our pool, the shingles and most of the ceiling slats are missing leaving the attic exposed, the ceiling is in danger of caving in, three thick windows are shattered and one wall is off the foundation and leaning sideways,” Donovan said.

Senior engineering major, Amanda Dinh, was in her home off campus when the tornado hit.

“We were watching TV when we noticed how loud the storm outside was getting. When we went to peek out the window, our ears popped from the pressure being put on the house,” Dinh said. “Multiple trees had fallen around our house and we had to move our cars to make sure they didn’t get damaged. There was so much water coming from our ceilings that there weren’t enough towels and buckets in the world to stop [the rain]. It was a surreal experience.”

Most of the damage to Dinh’s house was on the roof.

“Part of our roof got damaged. Our neighbor called night of the storm to let us know part of our roof was in his lawn. Because the roof was damaged, water leaked through the ceiling. The living room and one of the bedrooms got flooded. The ceiling came down in the bedroom. There was some damage to our garage door as well. In comparison to some of our neighbors, we are very fortunate in terms of damages. Some of them don’t even have a roof anymore,” Dinh said.

Senior engineering major, Kate Walls’ house was also damaged.

“When we were able to get into the locked bedroom the entire ceiling, insulation and all, had collapsed onto the resident’s bed. Along with that the ceiling in another bedroom as well as the front room were drenched and sagging. Our front door had also expanded with all of the moisture and we had to force it open with one of us on the outside pushing and two of us on the inside pulling. Once we got it open it would no longer shut since it was so water-logged. The garage door had also been ripped from the wall and our newly replaced roof was stripped of the shingles in several places,” Walls said.

The typical response from Trinity is an all-campus alert put out by Trinity University Police (TUPD).

“The Trinity University Police Department Dispatcher monitors severe weather and takes action when warnings of imminent danger are indicated to effect the Trinity Campus. The type of actions the TUPD Dispatcher can take may include sending a notification to the Trinity community by campus indoor and outdoor speakers, the campus phone systems and the use of TrinAlert,” said Ivan Pendergast, crisis management team coordinator.

However, an official alert was not sent from Trinity. Pendergast said that because the NWS did not include Trinity’s campus a warning was not issued by TUPD.

“The information provided to Trinity University Police Dispatch from the National Weather Service at the time of the warning indicated that there was not a threat to Trinity Campus,” Pendergast said.

Overall students wish that Trinity had sent out a warning. Donovan said she was disappointed that only the Student Government Association (SGA) has reached out to students regarding storm damage.

“It was very disappointing that the only email we have gotten about the situation is from SGA and no one else has said anything. People didn’t believe there was any danger since there was no warning and that could have ended badly,” Donovan said.

Walls said that because she lives off campus a warning from Trinity would not have made a difference for her. However, she was still surprised that one was not issued.

“It was a little surprising, given all of the practice tests, that Trinity failed to warn its students with its emergency response system,” Walls said. “I knew several students that were still out and about driving around and unaware of the tornado. It’s just lucky they weren’t close enough to any of them to be injured.”

Santulli also believes that students were not given enough warning from Trinity before the storm.

“Personally, I feel that the student body received insufficient warning prior to the onset of the severe weather, and I like the idea of SGA helping offset the financial pain wrought on some students who were on campus during the storm,” said Nick Santulli, president of SGA.

After the storm, SGA sent out an email encouraging students affected to contact them about their damage.

“SGA officers, just like everyone else, were shocked by the storm’s force and the destruction it wrought on the San Antonio area. However, we also know that the Trinity community is stronger when it comes together. Therefore, we felt it was our obligation to form some coherent response and lead potential support efforts,” Santulli said.

SGA is currently looking at options on what kind of aid they can provide to students affected.

“We are exploring a few options that vary based on people’s needs. Please remember that, as of now, these are only proposals; we have yet to make any final decisions. If adequate demand exists, SGA may form a temporary volunteer workforce to help clean up homes of students, faculty and staff that were damaged by the storm. However, first we would need to clear some liability and logistical obstacles,” Santulli said.

Students affected should contact sga@trinity.edu.