Displaced student finds home at NKU

Two years ago when Mara Mudd decided not to stay in Kentucky to attend college, she never imagined she would be enrolled at Northern Kentucky University for her sophomore year.

Mudd, who was attending Tulane University in New Orleans, is one of two students attending NKU who have been displaced by the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

She began classes at NKU Sept. 2, two weeks after classes started. Not even a week before she began, she was still at Tulane helping freshmen move into the dorms.

Mudd was set to be a residential assistant in a female freshmen dorm at Tulane. She had moved down to New Orleans a few weeks prior to train as an RA for the semester. When Mudd heard that a hurricane was headed toward the gulf coast, she wasn’t nervous.

“I wasn’t really concerned,” she said. “We had to evacuate last year because of Hurricane Ivan, and it missed us.”

Students and parents were moving into the dorms Aug. 26 and 27 as Hurricane Katrina began to hit land.

Students were informed that they needed to evacuate the morning of Saturday, Aug. 27, two days before classes were set to begin. They were told to leave their belongings in the rooms. Some students left with parents who were helping them move in, others drove out of the area. Those who didn’t have means to leave were bused by Tulane to Jackson State University in Missouri, Mudd said.

Since Mudd was an RA, she had to wait for all of the students to leave so she could lock the doors behind them. The campus was evacuated and closed by 7 p.m.

“One of my friends waited for me and I left with her family,” Mudd said.

The group drove to the friend’s relative’s house in New Iberia, Texas. From there, she rode with the friend’s family to the airport in Houston to fly home.

“It just all happened so fast,” Mudd said.

She said once she got to the airport, she began to realize that this evacuation wasn’t like the one she had experienced before. Mudd brought a few sets of clothes and her computer home with her from New Orleans. The rest is still in her dorm.

“I have my whole wardrobe down there,” she said.

Mudd also had purchased new items for her room this year, including a 24-inch flat-screen TV and new bedding for her room.

“Part of the reason I didn’t take more is because I didn’t think (Katrina) would hit,” Mudd said.

With mostly her winter clothing as her wardrobe in Kentucky, Mudd has been trying to find a little normalcy at home.

She said not having the same sense of independence as she did in New Orleans is difficult for her since she is living at home, as well as watching the hurricane coverage on the news.

“For me, it’s like seeing my home on TV,” Mudd said. “I just stopped watching the news.”

Though the images on the news aren’t uplifting to her, she said the relief efforts help her have a positive outlook.

“I think it’s amazing to see a country come together because of a cause,” she said. “People who don’t even know me are trying to help me.”

Mudd said Tulane has tentatively scheduled to reopen for the spring semester. Most of her college friends are attending colleges where they live until the school reopens.

The only information Mudd has received about Tulane is what is available on the school’s emergency update hotline. She said that there hasn’t been much damage to the dorms at the university, but the academic buildings have water damage on the first floors.

Until the school reopens, Mudd plans to stay at NKU. This semester the undeclared sophomore is enrolled in mostly general education courses.

All courses she completes at NKU will transfer to Tulane once she returns. Mudd is also not required to pay tuition at NKU since she is on scholarship at Tulane and her tuition is paid for in New Orleans.

Displaced students are also able to attend NKU Gateway Community and Technical College, Thomas More College, the University of Cincinnati, Xavier University, the College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio and Cincinnati State and Technical and Community College.