Hurricane Harvey evacuees find safety in Oxford

Posted on Aug 30 2017 - 8:01am by Sarah Byron

Mother Nature plays no favorites.

Tropical Storm Harvey has destroyed homes, flooded the streets and devastated people all over southeastern Texas, in places like Houston, Corpus Christi and Galveston.

Houston Police SWAT Officer Daryl Hudeck carries Catherine Pham and her 13-month-old son, Aiden, after rescuing them from their home surrounded by floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey on Sunday, Aug. 27, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Away from the immediate danger of the raging tropical storm, Oxford, has been a safe-haven for some evacuees. Relatives of Ole Miss alumni are collecting their most valuable belongings, packing up their lives and heading to Oxford.

Lisa Ganucheau is the mother of senior accounting major Mary Clare Ganucheau from Houston, Texas. As soon as Lisa heard the news about the incoming hurricane, she packed her wedding dress, photo albums and family documents, and drove herself to Oxford for shelter in their family condo.

“We know people on the coast who have lost everything and we know people in Houston who have lost everything,” Lisa said. “They kept saying to be ready, to be ready, to be ready, and people woke up Saturday morning with water in their houses. Poor people, wealthy people, everywhere around town — people have lost their homes. It’s because the bayou has risen.”

Meanwhile, social media has been working to help families all over Texas.

“It’s been a huge help. A huge, huge help,” said Lisa. “It’s the fear of the unknown that keeps you up at night. But when you can at least see pictures of what’s happening, that helps.”

According to the university’s Office of Admissions, more than 21 percent of the 24,250 students who attend the University of Mississippi are from Texas. The Ganucheau family is clearly not the only Ole Miss family affected by this tropical storm. Kathryn Abernathy, a junior journalism major from St. Louis, Missouri, has a brother who currently lives in Houston.

“My family tried to get him to leave the city and come to Oxford,” Kathryn said. “My mom kept calling him but he refused to leave. I don’t think he thought it was going to be this bad.”

The Oxford Chamber of Commerce is doing its part to help anyone affected by this disaster. David Guyton, director of the Oxford Chamber of Commerce, asked people to donate necessities like cleaning supplies, first aid kits, new towels, baby formula and dry pet food.

The chamber is also accepting monetary donations to cover the cost of a rental truck and gas in order to make the trip to Texas. The truck will leave town on Thursday, meaning everything must be donated by noon on that day.

“Remember, a community is a place, but it is much more than that,” said Guyton. “It is that feeling that exists in our hearts when we think of our families, our friends, our neighbors and our homes.”