Southeastern to dedicate Memorial Fountain on Aug. 29 Katrina anniversary
Contact: Christina Chapple
HAMMOND – On Aug. 29 Southeastern Louisiana University will dedicate a new campus fountain as a memorial to the victims of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to the citizens who responded in the wake of the sister storms that ravished the Gulf Coast region two years ago.
The dedication of Memorial Fountain, located in Presidential Plaza, the quad area behind Fayard Hall, is scheduled for 3 p.m. and is open to the public. Southeastern will dismiss 3 p.m. Wednesday classes so that students and faculty may attend.
The brief dedication program will begin in Fayard Hall and continue at the fountain. With Vice President for Student Affairs Marvin Yates serving as master of ceremonies, it will feature remarks by Provost John Crain and SGA officers who were instrumental in the fountain project and vocal selections by Kristin Hilliard and Blair Abene, the current and past Miss Southeastern, and by the Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music honor society. At the ceremony's conclusion audience members will be invited to place yellow roses in urns that flank the fountain as a reminder of the challenges and opportunities the storms provided.
Funded entirely by students through a capital outlay fund administered by the Student Government Association, the $250,000 fountain, built by Cobalt Construction, Inc. of Slidell, is one of the first hurricane memorials to be completed in the Gulf Coast region. Its unique design by Holly and Smith Architects graphically recalls the two storms’ devastating paths across the coast.
The fountain’s pool features a raised carving of the Gulf Coast from Texas to Alabama. While the water flow normally rims the coastline, at timed intervals it bubbles up from jets positioned at the location of two storms’ landfall to flood, and then recede, from the coastline. Markers on the carving’s base list the states and parishes or counties affected by Katrina and Rita.
“The fountain will forever be a reminder that, just as the waters covered our coastline, they also rescinded to find us still standing strong,” said President Randy Moffett. “It is a symbol not just of loss, but more importantly of the strength, generosity and resolve to rebuild that has followed the storms’ challenges.”
“We are really pleased that we were able to establish this memorial so quickly,” said SGA President Chris Barcelona. “It is a great way to remember what happened and also to remember the hardships and challenges that many students, as well as faculty and staff, are still facing today.”
When Southeastern reopened following Katrina on Sept. 9, 2005, more than 1,500 students were unable to resume their studies, a figure that two years later stands at approximately 700. The university also enrolled more than 1,600 “guest” students from institutions who were displaced by the storms. Presidents and SGA presidents from 10 of those universities have been invited to attend the ceremony.
In connection with the fountain dedication and storms’ anniversaries, KSLU 90.9 FM, Southeastern’s public radio station, will re-broadcast "Katrina: In Their Own Words" on Aug. 29, at 5 p.m.
The 30-minute program documents the stories, thoughts and writings of students and teachers impacted by the storm. It was a collaboration between KSLU and the Southeastern Louisiana Writing Project at Southeastern.
Writers from kindergarten to college age along with their teachers, including Southeastern faculty and students, participated in “Katrina: In Their Own Words,” contributing essays, poems and song lyrics. “Katrina: In Their Own Words” can also be heard online at www2.selu.edu/kslu/katrina.mp3. The National Writing Project published a companion book.