Historically black university offers displaced University of Bahamas students tuition-free semester

A historically black university in Virginia is stepping up efforts to help those in the Bahamas affected by Hurricane Dorian by offering a free semester on its campus to students at the University of the Bahamas.

Hampton University said Thursday that it was partnering with the University of the Bahamas to offer a tuition-free semester, as well as room and board, at its Hampton, Va., campus for students displaced by the storm. Students will have the option to stay at Hampton after the semester is over, while paying university tuition and fees.

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"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 William Harvey said in a statement.

Harvey struck the agreement with Rodney Smith, the president of the University of the Bahamas, who is the former administrative vice president and chief planning officer at Hampton University. 

Lawrence Rigby, who served as president of the Hampton University’s Student Government Association in 2014, said in a statement that he is “grateful to President Harvey and university leadership on this demonstration of kindness and humanity to my home in our time of need.”

“Young Bahamians from Abaco and Grand Bahama who are looking for the tools to rebuild their lives and our home will find them at Hampton,” he continued.

The news comes as the death toll in the Bahamas continues to rise in the wake of Dorian's devastation there. At least 30 fatalities were reported as of Thursday night.

Duane Sands, the Bahamas's minister of health, told The New York Times that the toll in the region after the hurricane “could be staggering.” 

“We are embalming bodies so that we have more capacity as new bodies are brought in,” Sands said.

ABC News reporter Marcus Moore said in a report on Sunday that the storm wreaked "absolute devastation" on the Bahamas.

“There really are no words; it’s pure hell here," he said as the storm, which had been upgraded to a Category 5 before making landfall on the islands, battered the region.

President TrumpDonald John TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' MORE said earlier this week that the U.S. will be “sending crews to help” with the situation in the Bahamas.