Union University will launch a major clean-up effort Feb. 7 after taking a day to evaluate damage inflicted on the campus by a tornado that struck Jackson, Tenn., early the evening of Feb. 5.
"Today is a day of assessment," said Union President David S. Dockery in an open letter Feb. 6. "Initial efforts to help students return to their homes or to a safe place also have started today and will continue throughout the week. A major clean-up project will start on Thursday."
University officials also are at work drafting an "intermediate strategy" to help get classes underway again on Feb. 18, Dockery said, despite the fact that almost every building on campus sustained significant damage during the storm.
Fifty-one students were treated for injuries and nine were kept overnight in a local hospital, university spokesman Tim Ellsworth said. Seventeen buildings received some kind of damage, and the roof was torn off a main academic building. Student residences were almost completely destroyed. Thirteen students trapped in the rubble were free after a five-hour emergency effort.
"By God's providence, no lives were lost," Dockery said. As many as 3,300 students had been on campus earlier in the day before classes dismissed.
Dockery recalled a 2002 tornado that struck the campus, causing $2.6 million in damage, and said this one was "15 times worse than that." The process of rebuilding will be "lengthy and extensive," he said.
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