On Friday, August 25, a Category 4 hurricane hit the coast of Texas, and its path of devastation continued well into the weekend. Close to 7,000 homes were destroyed and 40,000 were seriously damaged, the Washington Post reports.
The hurricane occurred almost 1,500 miles away from San Diego, and yet it hit close to home for some students at PLNU.
Madison Rogers, a sophomore chemistry major, heard from her boyfriend, Alexander Rohrig, right before the hurricane hit. Rohrig, a student at the University of Houston, said he was just going to wait out the storm. He thought it was going to be a simple tropical storm.
“Up until a few days before it hit, Harvey was still a tropical storm,” Rohrig said. “It was only until the day before that we knew it would be a Category 4 hurricane.”
All the roads in and out of Houston were closed, and Rohrig had no way of getting home to Dallas. Luckily, a dining hall on the first floor of his dorm supplied students with food and water to make the wait bearable.
“We had game nights and other events that made the week go by faster,” Rohrig said.
But Rogers also has a family farm close to the southern coast in Texas and the family has not been able to go down and see the farm since the hurricane hit.
“I don’t know if the house will be there or not,” Rogers said.
Rogers was not the only student affected by Harvey. Taylor Schaffer, a sophomore nursing major, moved to Houston five years ago. Schaffer and her mom decided to road trip to PLNU while her father and 15-year-old sister stayed behind to look after the house. The hurricane arrived by the time Schaffer had reached the school.
“We were super worried,” Schaffer said.
Her father had moved all of the furniture upstairs worried that the water would make it into their house. After the rain had lightened up, Shaffer’s father headed out in his kayak to check on the neighbors. He pulled people out of their homes and took them to safety.
The floodwater never flooded Schaffer’s garage so her house was safe. Still, the lack of flood insurance and access to roads had the PLNU sophomore worried about her family in Houston.
“It was hard knowing my dad and sister were still there,” Schaffer said.
People found shelter in the high school that she attended and at one of the local furniture stores. Those who could not access their homes were able to sleep on the display mattresses.
“It’s kind of surreal,” Shaffer said.
Friends and fellow classmates supported Schaffer with emails and prayers. Even acquaintances reached out.
“If it wasn’t the first week, I’d definitely want to go back,” Schaffer said. “Just going into the future, I don’t know what to expect.”
Vice President of Spiritual Life, Dr. Mary Paul, sent out an email on August 31 expressing the school’s distress. She provided links that the students could use to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“We are deeply aware of the devastation that has occurred in the Houston area and parts of Louisiana,” Paul said in her email. “Our prayers go out to all those who are living with devastation and uncertainty as well as those bringing relief.”
Donating to the Red Cross as well as the Cougar Emergency Fund is a way to help those affected, including students like Rohrig.