$40M in Hurricane Laura Repairs at Louisiana College

A southwest Louisiana community college says it has nearly completed more than $40 million in repairs and rebuilding needed because of damage from last year’s Hurricane Laura.

The need for skilled workers to repair buildings around the area has boosted enrollment in some classes at SOWELA Technical Community College, though total enrollment is down.

The category 4 hurricane that hit on Aug. 27 damaged all 13 buildings on the Lake Charles campus. Ten are fully open, and more will be by the end of October, the school said.

The new Arts and Humanities Building is expected to open in October. The old one had to be demolished, the school said earlier.

The Chennault Building, a refurbished hangar for the aviation maintenance program, is partly open. Other parts are closed to repair water damage.

A classroom building called the Calcasieu Building will soon be demolished and rebuilt.

Programs that have grown include industrial electrical technology, up from 96 students last fall to 136 this year – a 41.6% increase.

The school said machine tool technology, taught for the first time last year with eight students, more than doubled to 20.

Digital arts and communication enrollment rose 120%, from 30 to 66 students.

The school has said that the storm did minimal damage to its buildings in Jennings and Oakdale, which were operating normally during repairs.

The college has 2,875 students registered for the fall semester at the three campuses. That compares to 3,454 in fall 2019 and 3,187 last fall.

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