Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, February 19, 2019

AU reacts as Gustav prompts Gulf evacuation

AU students have mixed reactions about the impact of Hurricane Gustav.

Gustav made landfall Monday near Cocodrie, La. as a Category 2 hurricane. The storm was a tropical depression as of Wednesday evening. The hurricane displaced 1.9 million people in Louisiana alone, stopped about 15 percent of oil refining in the Gulf Coast and left millions of dollars in damage, The Washington Post reported.

Becky Mezzanotte, a sophomore in the School of International Service and School of Communication, said she is concerned about her grandfather, who lives by himself in Mississippi.

"I'm a little worried because he's kind of old and I haven't talked to him yet," she said.

Mezzanotte's grandfather survived Hurricane Katrina's Aug. 29, 2005 landfall east of New Orleans. He and his wife, who recently passed away, evacuated to a hospital. During their stay there, the hospital lost power and water. Since Katrina, Mezzanotte's grandfather later moved to a condominium closer to the coast.

Mezzanotte said she thinks she follows news about the hurricanes a little bit more than others on campus, but not as much as her parents.

"I find myself trying to distract myself from it," she said.

Allison Gosney, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, said she is not particularly concerned with Gustav's impact because it has not measured up to the intensity of Katrina. Gosney's parents live in Houston and she has relatives in Biloxi, Miss., who relocated to stay with her parents.

"I guess I would be concerned if there was a strong hurricane," she said. "However, I think the likeliness of a Katrina-force hurricane is very small."

Gosney said she also trusts in her family's ability to relocate if a strong hurricane came through the area. On some level, she wishes she could have the same distractions from studies as students in the area.

"I'm kind of jealous of my cousin, who goes to Tulane and is partying in Memphis," she said.

Owen Littman, a junior at Tulane University, a college located in New Orleans, is not as pleased with the situation.

"It's kind of annoying," he said.

Because he does not live on campus, Littmann did not have to evacuate when those living on campus did. He tried to wait out the storm with his friends. They stocked up on supplies, boarded up their house and taped the windows. He was not able to stay, and evacuated when the city government gave the order to leave. He said that while it was an inconvenience, he believes city officials made the right decision.

"They had to make that call because of what happened in Katrina," Littman said. "No one wants to take a chance anymore."

Gustav is the seventh storm of the 2008 Atlantic hurricane season. Three other storms, including Hurricane Hanna, were currently active in the Atlantic hurricane zone as of Wednesday evening. At that time, Hanna was located in the Caribbean, while Tropical Storms Ike and Josephine were moving west in the Atlantic Ocean.

You can reach this staff writer at

Never miss a story.

Get our weekly newsletter in your inbox.