Message from President Caboni - WKU Tornado Recovery Efforts
- Timothy C. Caboni
- Tuesday, December 14th, 2021
As recovery efforts continue, I am proud of the extraordinary ways members of the Hilltopper Family are leading, supporting and caring for our community. The unceasing generosity and selflessness of our students, faculty, staff and alumni showcases best the WKU Spirit and who we are as an institution.
The inspiring work of WKU faculty and staff to restore our community should continue. I am extending our altered operations for the rest of the week. Supervisors, please continue to work with your employees who wish to volunteer in support of the Bowling Green and Warren County recovery.
I want to recognize our WKU Emergency Operations Team. Less than an hour after storms tore through our area early Saturday morning, the team activated an Emergency Operations Center and has worked nearly around the clock since to provide emergency assistance and timely communication to our WKU Community and beyond. I applaud their leadership, collaboration, speed of work and ability to manage complex operations in an environment in which information changes hourly.
While our emergency efforts remain ongoing and continue to evolve by the hour, Hilltoppers are helping our community heal. Below you will find examples of the WKU efforts of which I am aware:
Campus Operations: Our campus infrastructure is largely functional, though phone service remains intermittent. Campus is open for those who need to work in their offices and to our students taking Winter Term classes, which began yesterday.
Power and Internet Support: Yesterday, we opened the Preston Center to all faculty, staff, students and their families to take warm showers from 6 am to 6 pm through at least this Friday, December 17. We also opened the Jody Richards Hall Computer Lab to the Bowling Green community from 8 am to 8 pm through at least this Friday. We know many need the lab’s resources, especially those working through insurance claims. Please help us share this information with your friends.
Housing: Our Housing team immediately identified just over 100 available beds in our residence halls. Our work to use those spaces as housing for outside first responders continues. We initially housed ten Louisville Police Officers and are currently working to move in 102 individuals from the National Guard and Team Rubicon Disaster Response. We also are identifying and assisting displaced faculty, staff and students and their families.
Dining: Partnering with local school districts, our WKU Restaurant Group is providing hot meals and bottled water at various locations throughout Bowling Green. By the end of the week, they will have served 4,400 meals to affected individuals.
Volunteering in the Community: The City of Bowling Green launched its volunteer headquarters at the WKU Center for Research and Development yesterday afternoon. All those in the community willing to join recovery and cleanup teams are asked to meet at our CRD for individual assignments. Immediate needs at the CRD include bottled water, work gloves, safety glasses, ear plugs and tarps. We continue to encourage employees to engage in both this effort and through school, church and civic groups. Additionally, WBKOcompiled a list of ways community members can provide assistance in recovery efforts. We continue to hear of many faculty and staff working throughout the city and county - lending their tools, time and physical strength to assist those in need.
WKU Food Pantry: WKU provided the WKU Food Pantry with an additional $10,000 to supplement its collection efforts. We encourage all those who can contribute to drop items using the preferred donations listing at 503 Regents Avenue from noon to 5pm daily until further notice. For more information or if you need access to pantry resources call 270-745-5982.
Direct Faculty, Staff and Student Support: We are working to compile a list of students, faculty and staff affected by the storm, as well as a list of those willing to help. Through the Opportunity Fund, AHEC (Area Health Education Center) and Hilltopper Family volunteers, we will then work to connect needs with assistance to the highest extent possible.
Athletic Events: WKU Athletics is offering free admission, parking and food to tonight’s basketball game against Centre College for any affected individuals. Additionally, Athletics will use games this week to raise funds for community relief. All those planning to attend athletic events, please consult the appropriate schedule or ticket resource to verify that a particular event remains on track.
Fall Recognition Ceremonies: Due to ongoing issues and damage in our community, we will not be able to host Fall Recognition Ceremonies this semester. Yesterday, the Registrar’s Office contacted all December graduates to provide information about our Spring 2022 Commencement activities.
Transportation Services: WKU’s Department of Parking and Transportation is providing no-cost shuttle services to and from campus for members of the community who need to access our computer lab, food pantry and other campus facilities. Shuttles are running between noon to 5 pm through at least this Friday, December 17. To request service, call 270-745-5888.
Counseling Services: We have connected employees and their families to our Employee Assistance Program, which provides five free, confidential, short-term counseling sessions, including stress management. Additionally, we have connected our students, faculty and staff to the WKU Counseling Center.
Monetary Support: We suggest the following options for monetary support to best assist our students, our community and our state:
- To provide monetary support to affected students, you can make a donation to WKU’s Emergency Student Assistance through the Opportunity Fund website.
- Governor Beshear established the Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund: https://secure.kentucky.gov/formservices/Finance/WKYRelief.
- Donations to Bowling Green Independent Schools can be made through the Stuff the Bus Foundation at https://stuffthebusky.com/donate/.
- Donations to Warren County Public Schools can be made through the WCPS Synergy Relief Fund at any Independence Bank branch.
As we continue our efforts in the weeks ahead, please bookmark the following website and check back frequently for important information and updates: https://www.wku.edu/emergency/tornado-response. The WKU Disaster Assistance Call Center remains open at (270) 745-5888 for members of our faculty, staff and student body in need of immediate assistance.
Our hearts are heavy for those who lost loved ones, those who lost their homes and those who experienced significant property damage. But I know Bowling Green will heal, and WKU will support our beloved city throughout this process and beyond.
Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers for our community and Commonwealth.