Texas natives on campus are still reeling from the damage done in their hometowns by Hurricane Harvey, but there are now dozens of Florida and international students from the Caribbean feeling the anxiety and stress these peers initially felt a little over two weeks ago.
Hurricane Irma began brewing on August 27 as a Tropical Storm. However, just nine days later, Irma had grown to be a category five and the most powerful Atlantic Ocean storm to be recorded, with winds reaching anywhere up to 185 miles per hour.
In the following days, Irma continued picking up strength as it invaded Barbuda, Antigua, Anguilla, St. Martin, St. Barts, the British and U.S. Virgin Islands, Turks and Caicos, the Southern Islands of the Bahamas and Cuba. Irma also caused heavy flooding in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Puerto Rico.
“I felt helpless with my family being so far away,” said freshman Kati Fernan, a Nassau, Bahama, native. “Even though I had to study and do my homework, my mind was constantly on my family. Being with them would have been a comfort to me, even if I would have been in danger myself.”
Although most would be paralyzed with fear and anxiety, Fernan mentioned that she believed that the Bahamas was and is still covered by God.
“My family is doing great,” Fernan said. “The hurricane ended up shifting west of Nassau so they only experienced rain and winds.”
After devastating the smaller islands in the Caribbean, Irma made a sharp turn north and headed for Florida. It made its first connection with U.S. soil on September 10 when it hit the Cudjoe Key as a category four. It later swept through Marco Island, Fort Meyers, Naples and Tampa.
Even among all of the damage done to Florida, it appears that the most damage occurred in the Keys where many of the islands were completely leveled.
Hannah Jones, a sophomore and Franklin, Tennessee, native, personally felt the devastation in Florida. Jones has an aunt and cousins that reside in Boca Raton that eventually had evacuate to stay with her family.
“They were required to evacuate because they live on the coast,” Jones said. “This in turn made them have a lot of unexpected expenses. As for damage from the hurricane, they lost all the trees in their yard and are still unable to return because their power is out.”
Over the course of the past few weeks Lipscomb Campus Ministry, Residence Hall Directors and the University Communication and Marketing Office have been reaching out to all students who were in the path of both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma. The individuals in these departments reached out to students in an attempt to provide support in the midst of the confusing time.
“We do not have an exact number of students affected by Irma at this point,” said Lacey Klotz, the Communication Specialist on campus. “However, we currently have a HerdFunding page that is raising money for both Hurricane Harvey and Irma.”
Campus Minister Cyrus Eaton echoed these thoughts during Tuesday’s “The Gathering” chapel service at Lipscomb.
“There’s still time to be involved,” Eaton said. “There’s still opportunity to give and opportunity to plug in. 215 of you all have already signed up to be a part of these mission trips that we will be doing throughout the year.”
Jones also encouraged Lipscomb students to give, stating that she thinks the best way for students to help is by raising money to help victims who now have unexpected expenses.
As Hurricane Irma is transitioning into a tropical storm, there are several ways that the Student Body can help those struggling in the wake of the storm.
Students and staff wanting to give monetarily can do so via the HerdFunding page dedicated to Hurricane Harvey and Irma Relief.
In addition to helping raise money, another way that students and faculty can help is by volunteering with Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort, Incorporated, which is located here in Nashville. The organization is in need of help to pack boxes, load trucks and organize supplies. Those interested in volunteering should call 615-833-0888 to schedule a time that works best for the organization.
Josh Self and Lipscomb Missions will also be offering a Hurricane Harvey and Irma Relief Informational Meeting in Ward Lecture Hall during breakout chapel on Thursday. During this meeting Self and Lipscomb Missions will discuss how students can serve as members of different relief teams.