Six Months Later: JSU slowly regains normalcy after March 19 disaster

Construction on campus during the summer of 2018.

Daniel Mayes, Editor-in-Chief

Construction on campus during the summer of 2018.

Six Months after the storms, JSU is still in the midst of rebuilding. (Grace Cockrell/JSU)

Six months after devastating EF-3 tornadoes whipped through campus and community on March 19, 2018, Jacksonville State University finds itself rebounding, but still recovering.

“Showing the true Gamecock spirit, we rose up to meet every obstacle in our path,” said Jacksonville State University President Beehler. “Now, six months later, we have made substantial progress ahead of schedule with bright and sunny days ahead. JSU is emerging stronger and better than ever!”

According to JSU, damage estimates to University facilities and properties has risen to $70 million, up from early estimates of $42 million. 50 of JSU’s 70 on-campus structures were damaged, and 40 are currently undergoing roof repairs.

Despite the heavily damaged campus, JSU saw no meaningful dip in enrollment this semester.

“Undergraduate student enrollment decreased by 170 students compared to last fall, but this loss was counterbalanced by an increase of 82 graduate students,” JSU announced on Tuesday. “That means JSU may be down 88 total students, but since its students are taking more classes, revenue remains steady.”

“This news is something to celebrate,” Beehler said. “There were moments over the past few months when we thought we were facing an enrollment loss of 5-10 percent. That kind of drop would have been devastating to JSU both financially and socially. I am very pleased with these results and want to thank all employees for their efforts in the recovery and rebuilding process and every student who stood by the university during this difficult time.”

JSU says repairs should be completed within the the next two weeks at Theron Montgomery Building, Crow Hall, Dixon Hall, Curtiss Hall, Fitzpatrick Hall, Daugette Hall and Hammond Hall, while work will continue through October/November at Ayers Hall, Bibb Graves Hall, Martin Hall, McGee Hall and Stone Center. The repairs at Houston Cole Library are scheduled to wrap up in January.

JSU also announced that the University’s two ongoing construction projects that were unaffected by the tornadoes, the new Fitness and Wellness Center and newly renovated Rudy Abbott Field at Jim Case Stadium, will be completed as scheduled. The Wellness Center is slated to open in January, while there will be a grand opening ceremony for the completed baseball stadium September 29.

Just six months after devastation rocked the community, Jacksonville State University, while not there yet, is well on its way to a return to normalcy, for campus, students and faculty.

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