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VSU students share their experiences during Hurricane Idalia

On Tuesday, Aug. 29, Hurricane Idalia hit Valdosta with a category two force and caused city-wide power outages, closed roads, and flooding. 

VSU allowed residential students to continue living on campus. Many students were unaware of how strong the storm would be and shared similar experiences.  

Other students who commute to VSU and live in nearby apartments also faced the damages the storm brought. VSU student Ashley Beck, a senior communications science and disorders major, lives in a nearby apartment complex that had an oak tree tear through her apartment during the storm. 

“It sounded like a tornado came through the apartment and it felt like an earthquake,” said Beck.  “I could see all the insulation falling and the water and the wind coming through because it was still in the middle of the hurricane. In our living room area, the water damage started to seep through the ceiling and the walls were coming down in multiple parts.”  

Repairs will begin in the next two weeks. Currently, Beck is staying at a nearby apartment. 

“As soon as the hurricane was over, the owner of the apartment came immediately and checked on it. She gave us keys to another apartment that they had available in another unit. So, we were able to take all our stuff and move it over temporarily,” said Beck. 

Those living on campus experienced the storm in a similar way. Tamar Payne, a junior elementary education major, lives on campus and said that the damage was worse than she had anticipated. 

“I didn’t really hear or see anything, and I was on the fourth floor of Georgia Hall,” said Payne. “There wasn’t any flooding or anything. The main thing was just losing power for a couple of days.”

However, when leaving the campus, she was made aware of the damage that had been caused. 

“I could barely drive down the streets because of all the fallen trees and all the stop lights were out, so I was really scared to drive. People were not stopping at the lights and just going through,” said Payne.   

Many of the roads were completely blocked by fallen trees. Traffic lights no longer worked, and four-way stops were expected. Many drivers, under stress or urgency, did not follow these rules. 

Graci Ashworth, a freshman psychology major, said she slept through the hurricane and was unaware of the storm damage until she looked out her window. 

“I could see branches everywhere. I could see another dorm with a bunch of little limbs on the building and it was covered with leaves,” said Ashworth. “I walked down with one of my friends when I went to leave that night to help her pack up her stuff and one of her roommates had a tree fall on her window.”    

Many in Valdosta were unprepared for the impact the hurricane would have. VSU floor tech, Colleen Nettles, served at Palms dining during the hurricane. Workers had to be flexible and fast to accommodate residential students.  

“The first day was a little uncomfortable, but through it all we got the students served breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a little hot at first but then we got generators and fans, so it wasn’t like it is today,” said Nettles. 

Food managed to be served each day at specific hours, and on the day of the hurricane, large food quantity bags were handed out to students. 

“It was worse than I thought it was until I came back to work and tried to get here with the fallen limbs and trees, but once we got through the first time and figured out how to maneuver our way through it was easier,” said Nettles about her commute to work after the hurricane. 

VSU took eight days to reopen completely due to power outages and network issues. Its doors opened Thursday, Sept. 7. 

Written by Jenna Arnold, News Editor. Photo courtesy of Ashley Beck.

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