Hurricane Irene certainly caused campus-wide turmoil this past week. While there were a variety of reactions to the hurricane and evacuation, it seems in general to have caused a headache for all of us here at the College of William and Mary, especially as we all attempt to catch up and readjust.
When the first evacuation notices went out on Thursday, the instant panic on campus seemed excessive. The storm was certainly on its way toward us, but by no means was it arriving Thursday night nor even Friday.
While travel plans needed to be arranged quickly, I think it would have been better if the College had waited another hour to announce the evacuation so that they could announce the charter bus and hotel options at the same time. Instead, many students rushed to procure any transportation home and were disappointed to realize later that there were options, including cheaper, organized transportation as well as the possibility of staying in hotels in Williamsburg.
That being said, in general I found the College’s communication to parents and students to be very thorough and informative. As an out-of-state student, I could not make it all the way home, and I know my parents appreciated hearing updates about the situation at the same time I did. This was especially helpful given the overwhelmingly poor cell phone reception on Thursday that prevented many from making calls or sending texts.
I also was impressed by the student body’s ability to pull together and help each other out during the evacuation. So many of us could not make it all the way home, and it was amazing how willing students were to take others home along with them or to offer them a place to stay off campus.
Given the missed class time, I was especially glad that a few of my professors e-mailed us during the evacuation period with updates on assignments and readings. I did not have much to do during the evacuation, so I was grateful I could keep up with my classwork instead of catching up when I got back. I wished all the professors had contacted us to inform us of their their plans because I was unsure of what some of my professors expected for class.
While many students, including myself, were annoyed at the prospect of missing multiple days of class and dealing with travel expenses, I do not think the College had much of a choice in their evacuation decision. So much of our campus depends on electricity, including all of the residence hall doors, fire alarms, internet, dining halls and classrooms. Since power was almost guaranteed to go out, I think the College made the right decision in evacuating us. As frustrating as the situation was, I am glad that it happened at the beginning of the semester rather than during midterms or finals. I think everyone will be able to catch up quickly and adjust for the semester.