Evacuation demonstrates community’s strengths

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MAGGIE MORE / THE FLAT HAT

Hurricane Florence, a Category 4 hurricane, is currently hitting the East Coast and leaving significant damage. When I first heard about the storm, I was just hoping for classes to be canceled, knowing well that the College of William and Mary wasn’t close enough to be severely impacted and that the administration wouldn’t cancel school unless there was an imminent threat to the campus.

It was officially announced Tuesday, Sept. 11, that classes would be canceled and that all students were required to evacuate. I remember opening the email and thinking I was delirious. It hit me that the evacuation was really happening only after the multiple Banner notifications and emails.

The automated phone calls and panicky texts from my parents helped too. I was a little scared. Implement my evacuation plan? The only reason I even filled it out was because it was mandatory in order to get room keys. In hindsight, I should have come up with a better plan that didn’t involve hitchhiking or paying $500 for an Uber. I frantically tried to find a way back home (pro tip: Be friends with people who have cars). As a kid from Northern Virginia, I had it easy, but I was wondering how out-of-state students and international students were going to evacuate.

Meanwhile, my phone was flooding with notifications from Facebook, GroupMe and Gmail. Six different clubs sent me emails about how they can provide shelter or transportation. The Student Assembly was also quick to send out a spreadsheet to arrange rides. I was surprised at the generosity and support of the College’s community. People were finding ways to help others before figuring out what they were going to themselves. I was in my residence hall when a random girl I had never met before asked if I had a ride. She even offered her house as a place to stay. Later that day, when I was panicking about the whole situation, a staff member wished me good luck and reassured me. Most of these people were people I didn’t even know.

It was then when I realized why I love the College so much: the people. What makes us unique is our supportive community and our concern for others. Even if we don’t necessarily know each other, we still do what we can to help each other, even if it may not be convenient for us. You might say that people come together in times of crises and this experience isn’t unique to the College. But my personal experiences at other institutions involved a more cut-throat environment where everyone was on their own, even in times like this. Whereas, even now, students at the College are still finding ways to help not only people within our community, but also others affected by the hurricane.

Although the hurricane has brought heavy rain and strong winds, it has also brought me a greater appreciation for my community. I was also able to grow closer and spend more time with friends through raiding the local Target for food and water and yelling at other twamps on I-95. It truly was an unforgettable experience I couldn’t imagine having anywhere else.

Email Sharon Kim at skim37@email.wm.edu