By Tamarra Kemsley
For students from the East Coast, there was more to worry about the beginning of school than finding new classrooms and books. Students were concerned about family and home as Easterners cleaned up after hurricane Irene’s attack on Aug. 28 – 29, killing 42 people.
Todd Hollingshead, BYU spokesman, said BYU has over 2,500 students from the states that line the Atlantic.
Eden Wen, 19, a sophomore from Ridgefield, Conn., said leading up to the storm she worried about her family. “My dad called me Saturday night to jokingly say ‘goodbye,’ ” said Wen. “I was upset with my dad for not taking it seriously because area authorities warned us to prepare for a hurricane a month before Irene happened. Every thing was OK but I started tearing up when I finally got to Skype with my parents afterward.”
The warning, Wen said, was a request from the Northeast LDS general authorities that all congregations in that region should hold a Sunday School class with an hour of instruction on hurricane preparedness.
Ultimately, Wen said the damage was minimal.
BYU student Matt Oakes, 19, from Ridgefield, Conn., said he received news over the weekend that his family’s house flooded.
Ashley McWhorter, 22, from Lewiston, Maine, said she felt concern which lessened as she saw her family prepare for the worst.
“I was initially really worried,” McWhorter said, “but as time went on and I saw my family prepare I felt more and more confident that everything would be alright.”
Sarah Fairweather, 23, a senior from Yorktown Heights, N.Y., said there was great concern in her home and community.
“My mother was sure it was the end of the world,” Fairweather said. “She said everything shut down. There wasn’t anything left in any store. I was so, so worried about them.”
Fairweather said her family experienced roof damage, a flooded basement, and still have not regained power since losing it Aug. 27.
Wen, Oakes, McWhorter and Fairweather all said their families were unharmed.
The New York Times reported Tuesday Aug. 30, “Hurricane Irene will most likely prove to be one of the 10 costliest catastrophes in the nation’s history … largely because the hurricane pummeled an unusually wide area of the East Coast.”