By: Grace Cavanaugh
Hurricane Florence, slammed into the East Coast, targeting the Carolinas this past weekend. Early projections had Florence barreling straight towards Virginia with the eye passing through Richmond. However, the storm turned southward and instead aimed full-force at the Carolinas and Georgia. The University of Lynchburg continued preparations in case the storm suddenly swung north.
Several emails were sent out to keep the faculty and students of the University informed about preparations. An email by Bryan Gentry, Director of Communications, on September 11, notified campus that Parents and Family weekend was cancelled, including the Westover Freshman Induction. In addition, he noted that, “the City of Lynchburg planned to close part of Lakeside Drive on Wednesday, September 12, so the drain pipe can be cleared of debris ahead of the storm.” It is assumed that this precaution was taken to avoid a similar situation to what happened concerning College Lake in August.
Continuous updates streamed into inboxes, including three more emails from Gentry. However, the announcements that the University would run on a normal schedule, did not deter some students from going home.
Though Florence has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical depression its aftermath continues pose a danger with ongoing flooding. As of September 18, CBS reported that 35 people have died: 25 in North Carolina, 6 in South Carolina, and 1 in Virginia. Because of the intermittent rain showers, Gentry, “advised students not to travel unnecessarily” as the university continued to monitor the situation.
According to Kristen Cooper, the University’s Director of Housing and Residence Life, the University will continue to be prepared should disaster strike. She said, the university wanted to “keep students safe and occupied, providing programs and services for students if campus did close and classes were cancelled.” Cooper said, “our staff has met a few times, and I’m also on the Crisis Management team, so I’ve been in touch with that group as well about developing programs for our staff that they can quickly implement and execute for students.”
Cooper wants to assure people that there are plans in place both for the best and worst outcomes of the storm, which can be found in an attachment sent with an email from Bryan Gentry on September 13. If flooding occurs in campus housing, Cooper said that the problem will be dealt with quickly and efficiently so students may return to their rooms as soon as possible.
Regardless of Florence’s path through Lynchburg, Cooper encourages students to “plan and prepare.”