(CBS) – A historically black university in Virginia is offering help to college students in the Bahamas who have been affected by Hurricane Dorian. Hampton University will offer a free semester to University of the Bahamas students displaced by the deadly storm.
University of the Bahamas students will be able to continue their studies on the Hampton, Virginia campus for the fall 2019 semester at no charge, Hampton announced Thursday. The schools’ leaders came to the agreement after the hurricane caused extensive damage to the island nation.
Rodney Smith, the president of the University of the Bahamas, is also the former administrative vice president and chief planning officer at Hampton University.
“I think this agreement is something that can be helpful to a great number of students and families, and is part of something I’ve tried to do my entire career — helping people to achieve and meet their goals,” Hampton University president Dr. William R. Harvey said in a statement.
The agreement will allow University of the Bahamas students to attend Hampton University classes this fall and receive free room and board. The students will then have the option to stay at the school once the semester is over at regular tuition rates.
“Hampton has been the educational choice for many Bahamians over its long history,” said Lawrence Rigby, a student from Nassau, Bahamas, who graduated in 2015. “I am grateful to President Harvey and university leadership on this demonstration of kindness and humanity to my home in our time of need.”
A massive rescue and relief effort is currently underway in the Bahamas, where there is widespread devastation following Hurricane Dorian. Thousands are stranded without shelter, clean water, or food, and the Red Cross says nearly half of the homes on Abaco and Grand Bahama Islands were damaged or destroyed.
At least 30 people have been found dead, but officials expect that number to rise “significantly.” The U.S. Coast Guard said it has rescued more than 200 people.