Vision and Voice for Catholic Higher Education      Learn More

Hurricane Relief

Many people have asked ACCU how they might assist those Catholic colleges and universities affected by recent hurricanes. Special concern has been raised regarding the safety of those students in affected areas who may have been displaced by Harvey, Irma, and Maria. We are pleased to offer links to various agencies and institutions that are contributing to relief efforts.

  • Catholic Relief Services is working to help families in the Caribbean recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
  • Catholic Charities USA's Disaster Fund supports disaster response and recovery efforts, including direct assistance, rebuilding, and health care services.
  • The American Red Cross is collecting funds for those affected by the storms.
  • The U.S. Department of Education is working with other federal agencies, such as FEMA and DHS, to ensure continuation of critical services to students, families, and educators and the restoration of the learning environment.
  • The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has established a relief fund and is providing updates on Harvey recovery efforts. In addition, through Catholic Charities and other ministries, dioceses throughout Texas are providing basic humanitarian and pastoral support to thousands of Texans affected by Hurricane Harvey. The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops has more information.
  • A broad cross-section of the higher education community in Texas has launched a joint relief initiative, “Harvey HELP (Higher Education Learning Pathways): Relief to Higher Ed Students Affected by Hurricane Harvey." Harvey HELP represents a centralized relief response with the goal to help students affected by Hurricane Harvey by raising funds to support emergency student-aid programs in colleges, universities, and community foundations. These programs help students and their families recover from and manage immediate life-and-logistics emergencies, affording them the ability to stay, or quickly get back on, their higher education pathways.
  • The Archdiocese of Miami is assisting victims of Hurricane Irma in the Florida Keys, Caribbean and Virgin Islands. Read more about how you can support their efforts.


ACCU is also happy to provide links to the latest information about affected member colleges and universities.

ACCU has learned that the Pontifical Catholic University of Puerto Rico community is safe, but without electricity or water, and has limited access to gas. We have been in contact with the university's leadership, who thank the various Catholic colleges and universities that have offered support. As soon as the institution has attained the minimal conditions to operate, ACCU will pass along more information about ways that we can offer assistance.


  • The University of St. Thomas in Houston is reported to be in very good condition and students there are safe. However, a significant number of students are without a home and the university has started a significant fundraising project to enable them to return to school and live in university housing. Please consider giving your support to this fund. In addition, the university is providing assistance and support to those in the region who need help. Read more on the university's Hurricane Harvey response page.
  • In Corpus Christi, Texas, and in locations throughout Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina, Saint Leo University felt the effects of both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Thankfully, the university reports that students and staff, as well as the sisters and monks of the Holy Name Monastery and Saint Leo Abbey, are safe. Nearly 700 students and staff took refuge in the university’s three safe shelter spaces during the storms. Thanks to the good work of staff and officials, many of the university’s affected locations were able to resume classes on September 18 at University Campus in St. Leo.
  • Ave Maria University has posted various resources related to Hurricane Irma on its home page. One news report notes that "students and staff of the university, which was largely spared from hurricane damage, have been volunteering in droves to lend a hand in Immokalee, the nearby farming community which was not so fortunate."
  • Barry University is providing post-Irma updates on its website. While the main campus has now reopened, sites in the Bahamas and on St. Croix remain closed. A story in the Miami Herald tells how the university responded to the approach of Hurricane Maria: "In less than 24 hours, Barry officials managed to charter a private plane to St. Croix to evacuate students, faculty and staff, who are part of the university’s physician assistant program." Be sure to read the full story.
  • The president of St. Thomas University posted a message to the community following Hurricane Irma. He noted that the campus did not suffer severe damage and has reopened.



Message from Pope Francis:

"Deeply moved by the tragic loss of life and the immense material devastation that this natural catastrophe has left in its wake, [His Holiness Pope Francis] prays for the victims and their families, and for all those engaged in the vital work of relief, recovery and rebuilding. He likewise trusts that the immense and immediate needs of so many individuals and communities will continue to inspire a vast outpouring of solidarity and mutual aid in the best traditions of the nation."