ELON, N.C. – When disaster strikes any nation, it strikes the student body of Elon University too. At a school that draws students from all over the world, it is no surprise that many here at Elon have been affected by this year’s harsh Atlantic hurricane season.
For students like sophomore Jamila Douglas, this extreme weather has also been extremely personal.
“All of my family is from the Caribbean island of Dominica; most don’t live there anymore, but my only living pair of grandparents still do, and I have yet to hear from them since Tuesday,” she said.
The frequency of this year’s hurricanes is the most shocking and problematic, as residents of Caribbean islands had only a week between a Category 4 and Category 5 storm encroaching on their homelands.
Four of this year’s seven hurricanes (Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria) have been Category 3 or higher, and the impact has been catastrophic.
“My aunt and uncle live in Fort Meyers, Florida. They lost power for like four or five days and they sheltered in a second story condo. Luckily, their home didn’t flood and they’re OK” said sophomore Caroline Free.
While the majority of students did not see destruction in their hometowns, they have been given a lens through their peers into how devastating the damages can be.
“[This hurricane season] hasn’t affected me really, but I’m more aware of what’s going on in the places that were,” said English major April Roberts.
Many students have expressed concern about how the U.S. government plans to deal with these tragedies, and about what the remainder of this intense hurricane season could mean for humanity.
“Global warming and climate change are real, and people need to be prepared and make changes in their lifestyles to limit their influence on our nation’s footprint,” Stanford student Matthew Bernstein said.
Sophomore Stephanie Brendel sees these unfortunate circumstances as an opportunity for growth during what is a contentious political era in the United States.
“The recent bout of extreme weather is hitting our country and its neighboring nations at a crucial time politically,” she said. “I think that the cleanup and rebuilding efforts can either bring us together as a country or contribute to the divisive socio-political climate.”
Others, however, are not quite so optimistic.
“Literally the world is ending” Free said. “There are a million hurricanes and wildfires and it’s crazy how many people this affects.”
Elon Communications Fellow Davis Klimek, who has been following news on the hurricanes intently, thinks that the Elon community can step up its environmental efforts and the rest of the country, and planet, should too.
“I think we are to blame for this weather. Humans are destroying the world we live in and people need to realize that global warming is a very serious and immediate danger,” he said. “We’re destroying our environment through oil mining and carbon emissions, and Americans need to realize that these extreme ecological afflictions and the frequency they’re happening at will only increase unless we decide to change the way we live.”