Three optometry schools — University of Houston, NSU College of Optometry in Florida, and Inter American University in Puerto Rico — have been impacted by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. Fortunately, all three escaped with only minor damage.
At the University of Houston College of Optometry, Dean Earl Smith said via email that, “our teaching, research, and clinical facilities on the UH campus were unaffected by the weather. We had no flooding….no wind damage….we are currently fully operational. The same can be said for the College’s community-based clinics in Houston. All our externship sites in Houston and the surrounding area also came through the storms intact.”
He also reports a small number of their faculty, staff and students have been significantly impacted. In some cases, cars were lost; in the worst cases, homes were flooded with substantial loss of personal property.
Many of their faculty and students are currently providing urgently needed eye care at Houston’s major evacuation centers to those who have been displaced from their homes.
Michael Bacigalupi, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs & Admissions at the NSU College of Optometry in Florida said that the campus “tolerated Hurricane Irma without much damage. We lost some trees and the power is still off. But, we are feeling very lucky that everyone is safe and secure.” NSU made the decision to keep the school closed until Monday, September 18th in order to get things back in order and for travel to normalize.
At Inter American, Dean Andres Pagan reports that while everyone is safe, Maria caused significant damage to their school. Thankfully, no students were injured. The greatest damage was from flooding, but they are working very hard to rebuild. They hope to re-start within 2 months or so, but are not planning to cancel the semester.