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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Campus

At Cullen Oaks, remaining residents trust complex’s safety


Many students at Cullen Oaks residence hall left the complex for the weekend ahead of impacts from Hurricane Harvey. | Erin Davis/The Cougar

Hurricane Harvey is set to hit the Texas coast between midnight Friday and early Saturday morning, and most of the students living at Cullen Oaks on-campus apartments have left in search of a safer place to spend the weekend.

As tensions rise around the foreboding forecast, many students who have the means to leave campus have already done so because they have either family or friends living at a safer location.

Those who have stayed at the apartments said they are taking the University for its word that things will be fine, as they have few other options.

“I have friend that works here and he told us that there are generators, and I hope I’m safe here, because we don’t really have anywhere else to go,” said hospitality management junior Maria Jose-Casdaneda. “Our apartment’s on the first floor, so we’ve put everything up, but we have water and toilet paper and food.”

Jose-Casdaneda, a 21-year-old student from Peru and resident at Cullen Oaks, is unsure about what to expect, as this is her first experience with a hurricane.

“We are not from here,” Jose-Casdaneda said. “It’s our first time in Houston, but if it gets really bad, then we are going to evacuate.”

Residents first received communication about Hurricane Harvey preparations from Cullen Oaks management Thursday afternoon via an email urging them that it would be safe to remain at the complex.

“Your safety is our first priority,” the email stated. “In the event that power is lost on property, Cullen Oaks has backup generators that will be used until power is restored.”

Acting freshman Haley Dugan, 19, said she thinks the University and apartment management have done a good job preparing residents for the upcoming event.

“I know that there was an Instagram post where they said how all of the dorms on campus are hurricane-built, and they told us when campus is closing,” Dugan said. “I’ve gotten UH alerts, and they’ve kept us pretty much up to date.”

As far as staying at Cullen Oaks, Dugan said she extends the same trust to the apartment’s management and plans to stay unless she receives an explicit notice telling students to evacuate.

“I’m from in-state but I’m from Fort Worth, not Houston, so this will be interesting,” Dugan said.

A few students said they planned to evacuate not for personal safety concerns but in order to stay with friends during the hurricane’s effects.

The Cullen Oaks office and security staff declined to comment on the apartment’s preparation to ensure residents’ safety, and referred The Cougar to the University’s housing office.

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