By Lindsay Huffman
After Hurricane Katrina tore through the Bahamas and the Gulf Coast in 2005, the citizens of the United States were outraged at the lack of preparedness shown by Bush and his administration. The government seemed to have no plan, no place for the victims to stay and no idea how to handle such a chaotic situation. And even today, New Orleans is still sifting through the wreckage left behind by Katrina.Especially after this disaster, one might think people would be more prepared to handle similar situations.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at Eastern early Tuesday morning when the residents of McGregor Hall were evacuated due to their own mini-hurricane in the dorm. The situation was practically the same as 2005, except the flood was on a much smaller scale and was confined to one building.
But its effects were very similar: residents had no place to stay, some students’ possessions had water damage and the university seemingly had no initial contingency plans to help these people.
And don’t forget-this has happened before. Two years ago, a similar flood occurred in McGregor Hall.
Shouldn’t Eastern have created some sort of a plan after it happened the first time?
Even if a plan had been created, it was not executed Tuesday. Many students had nowhere to go. They were shoved to Powell, to other residence halls and some had to stay with friends off campus.
The whole ordeal was frenzied, to say the least. Even when students couldn’t help the situation, Eastern still had no way of accommodating them in case of emergency.
And it isn’t as if there couldn’t be options. One viable option the university utilized already was putting students into residence halls with empty rooms. In addition to that, Eastern could have some spare cots so displaced students can sleep in either Powell or Alumni Coliseum. Perhaps making a deal with a local motel would be beneficial as well, saying the university will reimburse the establishment in exchange for letting the students stay the night.
But many of the McGregor students had no place to go. Students had to stay in a residence hall that wasn’t their own, some paid for their own hotels (and may or may not be reimbursed) and some were fortunate enough to have friends willing to take them in for a night or two.
If the university wants to be known as a resident campus, where more students live on campus rather than off, then the university should be prepared for the days when things go wrong.
And maybe this is the bigger problem overall: why did the flood happen in the first place?
Sure, accidents happen. Water pipes break; a building floods. People deal with it; life goes on. Usually when something like that happens, administrators set up an arrangement, just in case the same thing happens again. However, administrators also usually invest in some preventative measures to ensure that a similar situation doesn’t happen.
If McGregor Hall flooded two years ago, why did another water pipe break so soon thereafter?
Eastern is, admittedly, an old university. Some residence halls have been on campus for decades, and it’s very possible that it’s been decades since some of these halls have been renovated.
Even though money may be tight, residence halls should take precedence in the school’s budget. It’s not just about making the students’ living experience more comfortable-although living in a renovated dorm is sure to be very nice-but it’s about making sure students are safe.
Busting water pipes? Probably not the safest things for the students or their possessions.
Hopefully, Eastern will use hindsight with the McGregor Hall flood and put an effective emergency plan in place. Again, if Eastern wants to be mainly a residential campus, then the state of preparedness for residence hall disasters will have to be changed.