Rice Students Ride Out Ike
When Will Rice College freshman Hannah Thalenberg decided to attend Rice last year, she never thought her first month on campus would be so exciting.
“My mom in Atlanta knew I was safe at Rice during Hurricane Ike, and my dad in Brazil was ecstatic,” Thalenberg said. “My dad said that our Polish ancestors could never have imagined a Thalenberg riding out a hurricane. I’m first-generation!”
To pass the time, Thalenberg said, about a half-dozen students made cookies with Paula Krisko, a master at Will Rice, while others played games, watched movies or read.
Excitement appeared to be the sentiment of most Rice undergraduate students hunkered down in their respective colleges. Most said Rice was well-prepared with water, food and shelter.
“Rice is the safest place in Houston to be,” said Annie Kuntz, Sid Richardson College sophomore. She is from Houston and decided to stay on campus rather than return to her parents’ home on the north side. “You know Rice is going to have power, being so close to the Texas Medical Center.”
For Jones freshman Brianna Mulrooney of New Jersey, this wasn’t her first brush with a hurricane. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd dumped 15 inches of rain on the upper East Coast, killing 57 people. “This hurricane was very much like Floyd,” said Mulrooney, who, along with Kuntz and many others at Rice, donated blood to a Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center that was set up in Farnsworth Pavilion.
Making the best of it was the mantra of the day.
An unconfirmed but widely spread report said certain Martel College students were flying kites during the tropical storm-force winds that preceded the hurricane. Also unconfirmed are reports that the Martel kites had special messages written on them for Jones College residents.
“Most of us were having a good time and making the best of the situation,” said Brown College senior June Hu of Katy, Texas. “We saw Shepherd School students practicing a quartet in the Rice Memorial Center, so it put us in the mood to watch the movie ‘Titanic.’”
Both Hu and Brown senior Kevin Liu commented on the eerie sounds of Hurricane Ike. “We couldn’t see what was going on outside, but we could hear it,” said Liu, of San Antonio, Texas.
Like all other undergraduate Rice students, Hu and Liu left their rooms to take shelter in hallways or other interior areas within buildings and away from glass when the actual storm hit campus. “We were in the hallways from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” Liu said, “and I don’t think most of us slept much.”
While undergraduate students stayed at their colleges, graduate students who lived in Rice housing or mandatory evacuation zones were sheltered at Janice and Robert McNair Hall and Rice Memorial Center until Monday. Rice officials had to inspect and secure the apartment buildings, due to downed power lines and 15-pound roof tiles that were a potential threat.
“It was frustrating because we really wanted to get back to our apartments Saturday to have access to our clothing, food and other items,” said Andrew Staupe, a Shepherd School of Music graduate student from Minnesota. “At the same time, we knew that they wanted to make sure it was safe for us to go back.”