Bennett addresses students after storm: ‘We are fortunate’


On Jan. 22, The University of Southern Mississippi’s President Rodney Bennett addressed the Southern Miss community  after a tornado ripped through parts of Lamar and Forrest counties Saturday morning. 

Bennett said the USM community is fortunate that there have been no reports of tornado-related injuries or damages on USM’s campuses.

“One off-campus facility that the university is currently renting for a grant-funded project sustained damage that will be addressed in the coming days,” Bennett wrote. “The university’s classes and operations are expected to proceed according to regular schedules this week.”

According to several reports, William Carey University’s campus endured significant damage due to the E-3 tornado.

Bennett said he toured the WCU campus to assess the devastation and meet with the leaders of the institution. Although Southern Miss will not “be establishing new avenues for WCU students to transfer” to USM, the campus community will provide what they can to help those students impacted.

“In the short term, a small group of William Carey students has moved into Hillcrest residence hall, and all William Carey students were invited to dine at no cost at the Fresh Food Company throughout the weekend,” Bennett wrote. “I ask you to join me in welcoming these students as you see them on campus.”

Students who were impacted by the storm should contact Alfreda Horton in the Office of Student Ombudsman Services, 601.266.4025, to notify the University of your circumstances and get help communicating with your professors. For more information, visit

Bennett said thank you to all the students and their commitment to the Southern Miss community.

“I am proud to be part of a university and a community that remain resilient in the face of any challenge and come together in support of one another,” he wrote. “Let’s get to work.”

Students interested in donating to storm victims can drop off items at the Keg and Barrel, SoPro Tap room and Southern Miss Athletics. Items requested by disaster relief organizations are non-perishable food items, pet and food supplies, clothing, flashlights and batteries, personal care items such as toothpaste and deodorant, bottled water and cleaning supplies.

Students interested in volunteering for restoration efforts can visit

On Jan. 21 Hillcrest dorm held a food and clothes drive for victims of the tornado.
On Jan. 21 Hillcrest dorm held a food and clothing drive for victims of the tornado (Kenyatta Ross/Printz).