Thoughts are with Shaw University
Those of you in the US are probably aware that a huge swath of bad weather across the Southeast spawning tornadoes has killed dozens of people, 22 here in North Carolina alone.
One area hit heavily was just south of downtown Raleigh, the state capital, in and around the campus of Shaw University. Shaw is an independent, historically Black university founded in 1865 and, for readers here, home to a ACS-accredited chemistry program. Shaw was also home from 1881 to 1914 of Leonard Medical School and School of Pharmacy that graduated some of the most influential African-American physicians and pharmacists of their day. Among those was the late Dr. James E. Shepard, founder of my school, North Carolina Central University.
While Shaw was fortunate that no students or staff were killed or injured, damage to the campus was extensive enough that Shaw President Dr. Irma McClaurin has canceled classes for the rest of the semester. A detailed letter explaining how academic activities cannot be safely conducted is contained within this PDF of a letter released today.
The city has set up a shelter at Southeast Raleigh High School for all in the area, including about 150 Shaw students who are reported displaced. While the campus is normally easily accessed from the S Saunders St exit on Interstate 40 (#298), streets in the area are closed and authorities recommend that all except trained aid and utility workers stay out of the area today.
I know that we have a lot of students and faculty here and around the world who will wish to provide assistance so I will keep all apprised of developments in that vein.
Update 1: This assembly of time-lapse images from WRAL-TV shows a large column developing from the south toward downtown Raleigh.
Update 2: The NOAA report (PDF) on the tornado activity across a 63-mile path indicates that the tornado decreased in intensity as it hit Shaw, then strengthened again as it moved northeast.
Update 3 (Mon 18 Apr): Columnist Barry Saunders of the Raleigh News & Observer wrote this morning that a fund has been established to defray the costs associated with this weekend's tornado damage:
An area of south Raleigh, NC, in and around the university was hard hit yesterday by a tornado.
President McClaurin said the school has set up a disaster relief fund at Mechanics & Farmers Bank at 13 E. Hargett St., Raleigh, 27601. [Indicate on checks that the funds are intended for the "Shaw University Disaster Relief Fund."]
I've been live-streaming Shaw's excellent jazz radio station, WSHA 88.9 FM, since I finished teaching this morning and am learning that the community is really coming out in support of all those affected by these tornadoes.
Update 4 (Wed 20 Apr): Goodnight, Raleigh, a photoblog that captures our state capital at nighttime, is reporting that students from area universities are trying to raise $10,000 in funds by the end of exams to help those from Shaw, St. Augustine's, and NC State who were affected by the tornado damage. Many who attend or work at each of these Raleigh institutions had damage to their personal residences as well.
Additionally, a group work effort has been scheduled at 3 pm on Thursday, April 21st, at Estey Hall on the Shaw University campus for all interested clean-up volunteers. Estey Hall is at the corner of Blount and East Streets. If you can go, be dressed in work clothes with strong-toed shoes. Organizers from a NC State student group, Universities United:Supporting Our State (UU:SOS), are also asking folks to bring heavy-duty trash bags, if possible.