Almost a month after Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, the staff of the NSU Puerto Rico Regional Campus have contacted every student in the College of Pharmacy and Fischler College of Education, reopened between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. and resumed classes.
Ricardo Belmar, vice president of regional campuses, provided some insight into how the campus has recovered. Puerto Rico’s campus is a two-story building with classrooms, offices, lounge spaces, student spaces and study spaces.
“We’re still having some difficulties with being able to broadcast through video service. From what I understand, we’re not able to offer classes through that yet,” said Belmar. “There are some areas that incurred some damage but I would say within the next month all of that should be corrected. Other than that, the campus is almost fully operational.”
According to Belmar, this includes damage caused by water and wind after windows were blown out during the storm.
“The campus does have power, so it’s good for the students, staff and faculty when they’re there,” said Belmar. “There’s AC for them and they can do their schoolwork.”
The College of Pharmacy resumed classes on Oct. 16 and will run Monday through Friday, while the Fischler College of Education have resumed classes on a newly modified schedule. Belmar explained that the only reason the campus currently closes at 8 p.m. instead of its usual 12 a.m. is to help students get home before nightfall while traffic lights are still out across the island.
NSU has also sent supplies such as water, food, batteries and tarps over to the campus several times since the hurricane thanks to a loan of Dr. Kiran C. Patel’s jet, who also made a legendary donation to NSU earlier this semester. Patel and NSU sent a fourth flight on Oct. 26 to the island with necessary supplies.
“Seeing what is happening in Puerto Rico, and knowing that NSU has a regional campus on the island, I knew I had to do something to help,” said Patel. “I’m part of the NSU family and they are hurting; as a physician, a husband, a father – as a person – how could I not help?”
Belmar said NSU is also sending more supplies to the island via FedEx and will make a determination about whether or not another plane would be necessary. In addition to supplies, Belmar said that NSU is providing hot lunches for students on the campus Monday through Friday.
“NSU not only came with the jet, but they’re also sending supplies via FedEx. Anything that they can think of and find they are trying to get to us,” said Vanessa Blanco, director of NSU’s Puerto Rico Regional Campus.
Belmar said that the overall goal is to give NSU students in Puerto Rico support and provide some sense of normalcy.
“I think the university, with the campus being open, has given the students some sense of normalcy to their lives at least from the academic side,” said Belmar. “And I think that’s been helping them a lot to cope with the situation they’re experiencing right now.”
“It brings joy and even tears [to our eyes] because we know that NSU’s Florida family really cares. It’s really showing our core values at work,” said Blanco. “I haven’t seen any other company [or university] do this and do this for their students.”
To donate to NSU’s Hurricane relief efforts known as NSU CARES, go to https://app.mobilecause.com/form/-kF4bw, text NSUCARES to 41444.