East coast students feel the impacts of Hurricane Dorian

hurricane dorian
Hurricane Dorian, which peaked at a category 5 storm, left 1,300 people missing in the Bahamas. The hurricane made landfall once more, as a category 1 storm, in the east coast of the United States Sept. 6. WikiCommons

When Madeleine Smith, a sophomore film production major, was growing up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, she would experience hurricanes first hand.

In order to alleviate some of the fear and keep her and her younger brother from looking outside at the storm, Smith’s parents would build forts to make a game out of the situation. Her family’s living room would transform into a makeshift fortress created by patching two sofas, blankets, sheets and floodlights together.

As her family would wait out the storm, they would play movies and eat macaroni and cheese, all while huddled together inside their living room haven. Hurricane Dorian, a category 5 storm, struck the Bahamas Sept. 1.

The country was severely hit and about 1,300 people have been reported missing since the hurricane made landfall, according to The New York Times. Groups such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, and Direct Relief are accepting donations to provide aid to those affected in the Bahamas. Dorian hit the eastern coast of the United States and made landfall once more in North Carolina on Sept. 6, classified then as a category 2 hurricane.

While Chapman is nowhere near Dorian’s path, students like Smith call some of the impacted areas home.

Although her immediate family in Florida did not have to evacuate, Smith’s family members in South Carolina had to flee. Her cousin had to travel as far north as Boston, Massachusetts, to stay with her grandmother.

Smith has stayed at Chapman since Dorian’s touchdown, but she has kept an eye on the storm from campus. She continues to check in with family members, news stations and spaghetti models–diagrams that show predicted directions of hurricanes.

Her family prepared for the storm as usual: they stocked up on water bottles, batteries and nonperishable foods. As a precaution, her parents almost sent her younger brother out to California, Smith said.

Ryan Langley, professor of sociology at Chapman, said that the impact on families during these natural disasters are influenced by the preparedness that Smith described. Those who live in areas where there is hurricane preparedness are at more of an advantage than families living in rural or lower income areas who do not have those resources.

A Californian’s familiarity with earthquakes to a Floridian’s familiarity with hurricanes is similar, Smith said.

“Am I used to it? Absolutely,” Smith said. “Does it still freak you out every time you hear there are going to be hundred-mile winds and a bunch of rain? Yeah. But we know how to deal with it.”