KINGWOOD, Texas (FOX 26) - Crews are continuing to remove contaminated material from buildings at Lone Star College-Kingwood after the campus was hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. School officials say the majority of the buildings on campus are unusable, forcing professors to move their classes online.
“This semester almost all are taking at least one or more online classes,” said Katherine Persson, president of Lone Star College-Kingwood.
Eleven thousand of the 13,000 students are doing classes online after six of the nine buildings on campus flooded up to three feet with water from the San Jacinto River and sewage from a nearby treatment plant, said Persson.
“When I first saw it, it was still fairly nasty,” said Richard Miertschin, senior facilities manager at the college. “The water had receded somewhat. There was fish laying down the hallways and on top of the drain grades.”
Seven buildings were deemed a hazard to health or inaccessible. The library is an empty building after books were ruined in the sewage water.
“We knew the campus is gone,” said sophomore Dorothy Luna, recalling the scene after the hurricane.
All four of Luna’s classes this year were switched to online following the flooding.
“It was like a slap in the face,” said Luna. “It was: am I going to be able to do it?”
Adding to her concerns—the flooding forced school administrators to push the start of classes back nearly a month to September 25.
“Our classes that are traditionally 16 weeks were converted to 12 week classes,” said Persson.
Luna will have to squeeze more work into a shorter semester.
“That’s a lot of material I’m gonna have to teach myself...especially when it’s your last year, and you wanna finish—jam all the classes that you have to jam in,” said Luna.
Persson says she’s hoping to reopen one building and the upstairs of another building in time for the start of next semester in January. Miertschin says campus probably won’t be back to normal until next August.