A Postcard Home: What we did during Hurricane Irma

September 13, 2017

What do you do on a college campus when the outer bands of a large hurricane have enough strength to turn off the lights and cancel classes? You pray and then you make the best of it. 

CIU was closed on Monday and Tuesday Sept. 11 and 12 as the “fingers” of Hurricane Irma knocked out power with a top wind gust of 51 miles per hour.

The decision was made by the administration on the preceding Thursday to close the following Monday so students could make arrangements to be with family if need be. Power outages brought a second day off.

Prayer started in classes on Friday. Professor Dr. Kevin McWilliams lifted up the nation from the book of Psalms.

“I ask for wisdom for the leaders and your mercy for the people that they would be safe,” McWilliams prayed in New Testament class. “May you be their Strong Tower.”

As the weekend settled in there was an atmosphere of aspiring accomplishment as some students took the time to study, but there was also a hot-chocolate-book-and-blanket syndrome of a stormy day. 

But after a while, as the lights flickered, it was time for group fun.

In Founders Hall there was massive game of Sardines. The setting was perfect: the lights were out, people were available to play, and Mackenzie Sutton had wanted to do it since her freshman year. There was a haunted house feel as the women in black darted around the halls into rooms and up and down stairs looking for the person who was hiding.

Though power went off it came back in low voltage. This made some lights flicker like a strobe light, calling for a disco party without music.

Dinner time in the cafeteria was a candlelight picnic. Without full power the dishwasher was not working so disposable wear was the solution. Someone mentioned all the ice cream would have to be eaten that night if the power was out. Maybe that was why the ice cream line was particularly long that evening.

A group assembled in Petty 2 and discussed a Slip ‘n Slide in the rain, but as far as I know, it is a memory that is still to be made.

While we were safe on the CIU campus, there were those in the storm’s path. While studying with a friend, she paused. Irma was weighing on her heart. We prayed. What followed was a proclamation that the Lord is bigger than the storm and in submission to His will. The depth of the impact Irma has had on the people in its path is undeniable. But we know there is a God who sees and cares.  

-Naomi Balk, CIU sophomore