Mother nature is a mysterious thing that we all wish we could control, but know that we cannot. She is so unpredictable that not even weather reports can do us much good sometimes. This unknowing can be daunting and anxiety-inducing especially when it has to do with a massive weather system like a snowstorm, hurricane or tornado all of which can do an immense amount of harm. Other times, such as with earthquakes, there is no forecast or warning, it just happens.
With hurricane season upon us, I have been thinking a lot about the unpredictable nature of weather and how we can try to be prepared but many times come up short or even overshoot.
This week on my college campus there has been a lot of anxiety around Hurricane Florence that is churning its way towards the east coast. I go to school in Washington, DC and in all the reports there have been mentions of the Carolinas and Virginia but not a whole lot about our nation's capital. I think most of us on campus have been wondering "Well, what about us?"
But no matter where you are located there is a lot of wondering about "What about us, what do we do?" Especially in the case of college students. In some ways, we are in limbo. There are those of us who depend on our schools to provide us with protection, prevention, and guidance but then at the same time, universities think of their students as adults who can figure things out on our own.
This means that we are communicating with our loved ones, trying to reassure them that we will be okay, while also seeking their wisdom about what we should be stocking up on to prepare for the worst.
The consensus on that? Bottled water, and non-perishable food items that are full of protein and some fresh fruits on hand.
Will we need all of this stuff? Who knows. Should we have it? Absolutely. So I know that once classes finish up for me, I'll be headed out to get some of those items.
However, now with the weather forecast, it looks like for my campus we're just going to be having a rainy, and perhaps windy weekend as Hurricane Florence is on a pathway to hit south of us and then head inland as opposed to going north. But not every college student is as fortunate.
In this hurricane alone, over 1 million people are being forced to evacuate which includes many college students. As someone who goes to school across the country from her family, if I were forced to evacuate I am not sure where I would go, probably with a friend if they had a place in mind where they could go.
Disaster preparedness is not on a lot of people's minds, but especially not with college students. Admittedly we have our heads stuck in the sand, only focusing on what is impacting us in the present, which most of the time involves classes, our immediate personal needs, our friends, and social agendas. One of my friends even admitted today that she didn't know about the hurricane until she heard everyone talking about it and decided to look it up.
This stuff is not fun to think about, but it is something that should come across our minds as a possibility, even before a storm is forecasted. Colleges should provide residence halls with plentiful flashlights and it isn't too hard to store water and nonperishable items in a central location in the residence halls as well.
I remember at my elementary school we had a shipping container in the parking lot that in it stored our supplies for emergencies. We had non-perishable foods, personal medications for each student who had medical needs, water, and other necessities. While the example of my elementary school is on a much smaller scale than the majority of universities it is still something that is doable.
This experience has taught me to be mindful and aware of the natural threats around me. After this threat passes, instead of eating all the snacks I'll buy to prepare, I'll set some aside along with a couple of bottles of water for the next occasion where I might need a small emergency kit, and the need may arise without much warning.