Thinking of my colleagues

Flooding Closes Colleges in Northeast

Colleges continue to face unusual weather conditions as the academic year starts. Colleges in Pennsylvania, parts of New York State and elsewhere faced flooding — leading to some closings Thursday. Bucknell University, facing concerns about the Susquehanna River and local creeks, closed Thursday. So did Lebanon Valley College. Susquehanna University on Thursday was helping some off-campus students evacuate from areas that were no longer safe. Montgomery County Community College, outside of Philadelphia, called off classes Thursday night. In New York State, Broome Community College was among the institutions forced to close. The State University of New York at Binghamton has called off classes, but opened facilities for use as shelters by citizens who have been evacuated from their homes.

This is an excerpt from today’s Inside Higher Ed Daily Update and it reminds me of all the challenges that my colleagues have had during the summer and the fall.  Our friends in the West and Midwest dealt with flooding that lasted well into the middle of summer.


This summer we’ve had colleagues dealing with hurricanes, wild fires, and flooding.  As my wife and I watch the destruction brought on by these natural disasters I am reminded of my own experience when I was at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.  For weeks we, along with a national audience, watched the levels of the Red River rise well beyond predictions and late one evening we got the call that we were to evacuate our home, our city, and our institution.  Looking back I could have done a much better job of planning for the evacuation.  My wife and I moved most things in the basement to the top selves, clearly out of harm’s way and we were confident that these things, along with everything else in the home, would be safe.  As it turns out, we were half right. We were one of the lucky ones with only 7 feet of flooding in our basement and while it was within one step, our main floor was spared.


It is clear as we watch the aftermath of the hurricane, floods, and wildfires, we are reminded of how lucky we were that, even though we could have done better, we had time to prepare.  This has not been the case for colleagues this summer and this fall.  Cities and towns are being raised by wildfires and inundated with flood waters and the victims are most often given very little notice to grab their prize possessions.  Gone with the water are so many things and from our experience, the most painful loss are pictures that are lost forever.


One of the things that I will always remember about our experience with the 1997 Flood is how many of my colleagues reached out to provide comfort and encouragement.  With this blog post I, first, want to say to my colleagues who are fighting these natural disasters that I am thinking of you and my family’s prayers and thoughts are with you, and secondly, to remind myself and others, of the importance of reaching out to colleagues in times of need.


All of us are thinking of you and sending you our thoughts and prayers.

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