Powerful hurricanes have touched at least 200 alumni/ae throughout the country recently, causing concern within the school community and prompting efforts to raise money for support and recovery.
Hurricane Harvey pummeled through Texas in late August, bringing along 130-mph winds and killing over 80 people. Hurricane Irma, a Category 5 storm, arrived in the Caribbean and Florida at the beginning of September, killing over 120 people with its 185-mph winds.
Shortly after those hurricanes hit, Head of School Rebecca Upham sent an email to alumni/ae in Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
“We have been holding you and all members of the BB&N family who have felt the impact of Hurricane Harvey or Irma in our hearts and minds,” she wrote. “We fervently hope that things are getting better for you and your communities.”
“Our alumni/ae community stands in solidarity with you and would welcome reading your thoughts and seeing your posts on the Alumni/ae Facebook page,” she added.
Hurricane Harvey left many children in Houston homeless, including the students of Park Place Elementary School, where Seventh Grade Dean Miles Billings’ sister, Jean, teaches. Upon learning of this, BB&N donated $4000 worth of building supplies, store gift cards, school supplies, bed sheets, towels, and other items to benefit her students.
Upper School Spanish Teacher Rosario Sanchez Gomez also plans to collaborate with other Spanish teachers to organize a kickball tournament and a raffle to raise money for United for Puerto Rico, an initiative that Beatriz Areizaga—the first lady of the territory—founded to provide aid for the island in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
“I’m so concentrated [on] helping Puerto Rico because I am attached through my friends and family and also because it is part of the U.S.,” she said. “They are part of us—this is part of our community and our country.”
English Teacher Allison Kornet P ’27, whose husband played in the same basketball league with Ms. Sanchez Gomez’s husband when the two men were attending high school in Puerto Rico in the 1980s, said she and her family are concerned about relatives still in Isabela, on the island’s northwest coast.
“We’ve learned that immediately after the storm, they were safe,” she reported. “But given the power outages and food and gas shortages we’ve heard about since the storm, we’re worried about my husband’s aunt, who needs regular dialysis at a clinic, and his 94-year-old grandmother, who lives alone. Even for those who are young and healthy, these are scary times down there. It’s hard to know how best to help.”