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A Loyola University student displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina last week will be enrolling at Tennessee Tech University this semester.

Joe Henican, a native of New Orleans who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and who is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at Loyola, was on campus Friday to complete the registration process and select courses.

Bob Wood, interim director of TTU’s MBA program, said, “This is an unprecedented situation, and Gov. Phil Bredesen welcomes students like Joe, whose studies have been disrupted because of the hurricane. So our priority right now is just getting him enrolled. We’ll worry about the administrative details — like transcripts and tuition — sometime later.”

Wood said he anticipates Henican’s courses to come mainly from TTU’s distance MBA program, which combines Internet class interaction with CD-ROM content delivery, making it possible for participants to complete their study at any location.

“That way, if Joe’s able to go back to New Orleans before the semester ends, he can still complete his courses without having to worry about location or transfers,” he said.
Henican has been in Tennessee since Sunday, Aug. 28, when he purchased the last seat on a Southwest flight from New Orleans to Nashville.

He packed a suitcase with enough clothing and personal belongings for a week’s stay with his girlfriend, Melanie Long, and her family in Carthage. Now Louisiana officials estimate that it will be six weeks to six months before people can return to their homes.

“When you live in New Orleans, you hear warnings pretty often that a severe storm or hurricane is on its way, but you don’t ever believe it until you see it,” Henican said. “After I heard the predictions, I realized Katrina could be pretty serious — I expected a lot of damage, but not the extent of destruction that actually occurred.”

Although he’s still waiting to hear from some of his friends, so far all of the news Henican has received has been positive.

His parents were in Indiana, visiting his sister Meg, who attends Notre Dame, when the hurricane hit. His other sister and her husband, Colleen and Jason Loerzel, who are expecting their first child in November, were safely evacuated to Houston and later flew to Indiana to be with the rest of the family.

“No one’s cell phones are working down there, but I’ve been able to reach several people by text messaging and e-mail, so I’m still hoping to hear from some of my friends that way,” he said.

In the meantime, he’s been watching the television coverage of Katrina’s aftermath in the hope of gaining some additional knowledge of conditions near his home. He lives about five miles from downtown New Orleans, and footage from a location about a mile from his house, showed floodwater waist deep.

As for himself, Henican says he still feels a little disoriented. “I feel a little lost and uprooted, having only five changes of clothes with me and not knowing when I’ll be able to get back, but compared to what a lot of people are going through, I know I’m fortunate.

“I appreciate the hospitality that everyone has shown me since I’ve been here. Everyone has been so nice to me, and that’s been a very uplifting experience,” he said