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MIT staff blogger Matt McGann '00

Hurricane Katrina by Matt McGann '00

Trying to help, to the extent that we can.

Before getting too far into this entry, let me just say that I and all of my colleagues in Admissions and across MIT have those people affected in the Gulf Coast in our minds and in our hearts. It’s an emotional time for everyone; I’ve been at the verge of tears over this awful, awful situation. The feeling of anguish and helplessness can be overwhelming.

Life outside of the Gulf Coast moves on, and the Office of Admissions is still charged with admitting a Class of 2010. And even for students who have had their lives devastated by Katrina, many are still worried about college admissions. I’ve received emails from students displaced from their homes and schools who email with the question: “What now? I don’t know what to do.” My reply back has been, “I don’t know either.” This is an unprecedented disaster, and it’s just too early to tell what the best course of action will be.

You may have seen our official office response on MyMIT:

Our hearts go out to those students and their families who have been affected or displaced by Hurricane Katrina. We can only imagine the extent of the damage and we realize that it will be months before any sense of normalcy returns. Please know that for students directly affected by this disaster, we will be as accommodating and flexible as possible regarding applications to MIT. Please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any questions regarding your specific circumstances.

What does this mean? We’re willing to work with your individual circumstances, whatever they may be. Get in touch with us when the time is right for you and we’ll be happy to work with you and accommodate your situation as much as we can.

I have spoken to some of the incoming students from affected areas. A freshman from Bay St. Louis, MS, interviewed me yesterday for an article in the MIT student newspaper. His parents are safe but many questions remain. I also saw a freshman for New Orleans. The mall that he did his pre-MIT shopping at last Saturday was partially destroyed. Amy Perez in our office saw another freshman from New Orleans yesterday; his parents were here in Boston for MIT’s Parent Orientation, far from Katrina’s wrath. Sometimes, good things happen.

This morning I presented the on campus Information Session to a room of about 50 prospective students and parents. Given all that has happened, how can you not talk about the hurricane? Among other things, I talked about some MIT research projects that are trying to ameliorate the effects of disasters and prevent future calamities. Some things I mentioned:

Also, MIT has been working on ways to accommodate displaced students from colleges and universities on the Gulf Coast. An AP article today said that “the American Council on Education estimates 75,000 to 100,000 college students in the New Orleans area have been affected by the storm, and close to three dozen universities in the region have been seriously damaged.” Offices around the Institute, including Admissions, have been working feverishly to develop plans to welcome some students. That information should be on the MIT homepage very soon.

Again, my thoughts and best wishes go out to all of the families affected by Hurricane Katrina. Let us know how we can best support you going forward.

6 responses to “Hurricane Katrina”

  1. We are all carrying our fellow humans from the Gulf Coast in our hearts this week and beyond.

    You might want to note that Professor Emanuel was one of two guests on an NPR Talk of the Nation: Science Friday piece this morning, discussing the future of hurricane prediction with Ira Flatow. It was a highly informative piece; you can listen on the NPR archive at:

    MIT seems to be a perfect place for thinking creatively about solutions to future potential engineering disasters and how to avoid them in the first place. Maybe the “Colossal Failures in Engineering” class could come up with some ideas!

  2. Ajymurat says:

    yeah it was very bad.

    our condolences to them.

  3. Harish says:

    What happened at the Gulf coast was a tragedy and no words of condolence can remove the pain from the hearts of those who lost their everything, especially their loved ones. We must forget differences of race and colour and unite as one world to help the US in this time. I urge all of my fellow Indians to remember the help we recieved during the Tsunami and pay them back in kind.

  4. nehalita says:

    Watching footage from the news, it’s horrifying. I feel so guilty of complaining early on after losing power in my house in florida and considering the dead trees and minor floods in our area as a “disaster” — when it is nothing compared to what Alabama, Louisiana, and Missisippi are dealing with. To give anyone an idea, look at the aerial view:,0.240704&t=e&hl=en and compared it to the satellite view taken before Katrina.

    We have already taken action in my school (blood drive coming up this week, money drive already held, starting a clothes drive) — it’s the least we can do.

  5. Nicole R says:

    Those in the Gulf Coast are in my thoughts constantly. I can’t believe that such a tragedy could happen, and that it isn’t over for them yet. Watching the news it’s hard not to break down, thinking of all these people dieing on the streets with tons of people around who can do nothing. It’s horrifying. I’m helping the best I can from 5,000 miles away, I just wish I could drive them all out of there.

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