The destruction left in Hurricane Harvey’s wake is unprecedented, with such destruction so widespread, reminiscent very much of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. A category 4 hurricane, Harvey dropped more than 50 inches of rain on Southeast Texas, namely Houston, and parts of Southwest Louisiana over the span of a week, according to the NOAA/WPC meteorologist David Roth.
With a death toll of 20 plus, according to the Los Angeles Times, 28,000 square miles of land flooded, according to early estimates by Brad Kieserman, vice president of disaster services operations and logistics for the American Red Cross, and 32,000 displaced victims, according to Texas state and emergency officials, the impacts of Harvey are far-reaching.
As the southern United States attempts to rebuild from this disaster, its residents also brace themselves for another pair of storms, Irma and Jose, perhaps even more devastating than Harvey. Irma, a category 4 storm, and Jose, currently a category 3 storm appear to be on track to touch down along the east coast, according to the National Weather Service.
As the south recovers from Harvey and awaits the arrival of Irma and Jose, members of the Wilkes University community stand in solidarity and empathize with those affected.
While Irma and Jose’ direct path is still being established, Pennsylvania appears to be a potential target, including the Northeast region. This is of obvious concern to students at Wilkes and citizens of Wilkes-Barre in general.
The city of Wilkes-Barre is certainly no stranger to hurricanes and the devastation that comes along with them. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes dumped more than 12 inches of rain in 24 hours, causing the Susquehanna River to flood most of Luzerne County. More than 25,000 homes and business were destroyed in the aftermath, according to the Times Leader.
Then in 2011, Hurricane Irene significantly affected the area, causing a severe scare in Wilkes-Barre and Kingston, and flooding adjunct parts of Luzerne County, including Forty Fort and West Pittston.
Students across Wilkes University expressed their concerns about the potential of the coming storms.
“I’m concerned, especially noting this area’s history with floods… These things are unpredictable, adding to the concern,” said Shawn Austin, a sophomore communication studies major.
When asked if he’d seen any concern around campus about the growing threat, Austin said “I haven’t seen much concern (on campus) about the recent and upcoming weather, but off campus I have … Maybe it’s a generational thing, that in itself, may be problematic.”
“I watched the weather expressly last night, it’s scary,” said Catherine Tuman, a junior pharmacy major.
Although Northeastern Pennsylvania is currently untouched, students around campus are certainly connected to and feeling the storms’ effects.
Jordan Austin, a freshman at Wilkes, expressed sympathy for family currently being impacted.
“I have family in Florida who are being evacuated. Hopefully everything will be OK,” Austin said.
Austin is not the only one with family being directly impacted. Eric Pincofski, a junior pharmacy major, also shared his family’s close ties and concern.
“My family has a home in Ft. Myers, that’s of obvious concern. Citizens there currently have no access to gas and water,” Pincofski shared.
Anyone seeking to contribute may do so via The Greater Houston Community Foundation at ghcf.org.
In addition, in association with the American Red Cross, Wilkes University will be hosting a blood drive on Sept. 19.