Monday, February 11, 2008

The State of Things

I can't believe it's already been almost a week since the tornado. I'll pick up where I left off...

Wednesday morning brought the creation of the Union Emergency website, which has since morphed into the Union Recovery website. On Wednesday afternoon the website contained a phone number to call if you were a student needing temporary housing or a faculty/staff member willing to provide temporary housing. I called and was immediately connected to a junior nursing student. She and her freshman brother needed a place to stay. They're from Memphis, but wanted to hang around at least one more day to see if they could get on campus and find her car. By Wednesday night they had been made aware that her car was trashed, so they arranged for their mom to get them on Thursday morning.

They were wonderful guests. Jay picked them up and took them to Wal-Mart. The two Wal-Mart bags increased her possessions by about 60%--all she had made it out with was her backpack. We went to church for dinner and then came home so they could collapse. Their mom came on Thursday morning. It was obvious after meeting her where they got their "home training," as my 5th grade Social Studies teacher would call it.

We've since been asked on multiple occasions to house a student or two for the rest of the semester. As much as we would love to, our home is simply too small and our children simply too disruptive to make it work.

Things are progressing at an amazing speed at Union. They plan to have housing for the rest of the semester worked out by the end of tomorrow (one of the Baptist church in town owns a hotel and has given it for Union's use until December 2008, so that helps). The Assistant Provost has arranged a new class schedule that will allow graduation to take place on schedule. Dorms rooms are being cleaned out and students whose belongings are available for pickup are being contacted daily. Procedures were set up last week for students to get replacement IDs, driver's licenses, and FEMA assistance. As exhausted as Dr. Dockery is, I hope he still has the energy to pat himself on the back every night for surrounding himself with such unbelievably efficient and competent people. It's truly amazing.

And to answer Anna's question:

We didn't do much, to tell the truth. We opened the windows and turned on the news when we heard the tornado sirens, but that was about all. I sat on the couch with one foot out, ready to run at any second. We already knew that we'd each grab a kid and a mattress and hunker down in the bathroom. It was just a matter of deciding when. But there was never any indication that it was coming our way, so we just sat. Once we heard that Union had been hit we knew it was too far north to hit us. Everyone else I know sat in a closet with a weather radio, snacks, and toys. I guess we should've done that, too, but after living in Tennessee for so long I've become kind of oblivious to the warnings. I know that's not smart. Oh well.


Darby said...

Wow! That's amazing that they will actually be able to resume classes! What a lot of work by people dedicated to the students' best interests!

Rev. Tiffany Steinwert said...

I am amazed they will be able to continue with the semester!

I wonder how a student body all experiencing PTSD will be able to focus on studies.

anna said...

Amazing! I too wonder how some of the students will cope but I'm guessing that for most they just want to get back to normal ways of life. asap.
I'm amazed about the offer of the hotel...the students will be living large. ;)

I would have been camped in the bathroom...actually in your house I think I would have picked the laundry room... I have a sickness that makes me think about such things. I know where I'd go in Jesse's folks house, my sister's houses (jennifer is fornunate enough to have a basement), my friends house, Walmart, you get the idea. I'm a freak. I've even had thoughts of hiring someone to come in an acess our house for the best possible location since we have no real safe place to go...just the hallway. I used to sit in the bathroom when I was little and yell at my family they needed to hightail it in there with me when there was just a watch on. My dad would laugh and say he'd know when one was coming cause he'd see it through the big picture window he sat in front of. Drove me bonkers. Now I'm married to a guy that likes to go "watch" the skies for tornados..meanwhile I'm sitting in the hallway with my jug of water and diapers. ;) Sick I tell ya, I'm sick.

justagirl said...

Wow, that is really amazing how quickly they were able to put all of that into action.

Yes, we often run for the basement here during the spring, summer, and fall. I actually was camping on a cave trip with a group of college kids a few years ago when a tornado came through! It was jumping the valleys down there on the border of KY and TN. We had 70 mile an hour winds at the campground, which fortunately had a large concrete block bathroom.

Anna, I am really worried that you have no place to go!!!!