The path of Hurricane Gustav looks remarkably like the path of Hurricane Katrina, that hit three years ago this weekend. It is now projected as a category 3 storm, just as Katrina was at this point in its path. This is the best tracking site for hurricanes.
As you know, hurricanes can change direction and it all depends on exactly where it hits and the storm surge at the time it hits. But the current projected path is almost the exact same place as Katrina came ashore on the Mississippi coast, and coming all the way to Jackson – closing our campus for a week.
We are putting into action our storm plan in precaution. During Katrina we lost electricity, gas, and water for several days.
Here are several steps we are taking as a College and that I would encourage faculty and staff and off campus students to take action tomorrow (Thursday) and not wait.
COMMUNICATION – No matter how bad the storm our web site will be active because it is housed in Atlanta. We will keep information posted on my blog as the storm gets closer, and our web site www.Belhaven.edu is the key to keeping informed about school closing as well as when we would open again, should the storm hit. One of our biggest problems during Katrina was finding a way to be in communication with students, because during the crisis, we could not even get our news out on the television. Watch our web site should we need to close and power is out.
WATER AND FOOD – We are bringing in a large supply of bottled water and food that does not need to be refrigerated. During Katrina, we came down to only 12 hours of food remaining, and we hope to be better prepared this time. I would encourage you to do the same right away.
GAS AND OTHER PROVISIONS– It was nearly impossible to get gasoline for almost a week after Katrina. Fill up your tank right away. We are filling all the security vehicles, as well as the College storage tank. It is important to get prescription drugs filled, make sure you have batteries and a flash light, and get some cash on hand.
STORM PROTECTION – The student life staff will be training students this week regarding what to do should the storm hit. We lost a ton of trees last time, but fortunately few buildings were damaged. But hurricane force winds (even only a category 1 which Katrina was when it hit our Jackson campus) are very dangerous. A woman was killed by a tree just two blocks from the campus during Katrina, so we want to assure all students are in a secure area should the storm hit. If it hits, power lines will be down. Coming out after the storm and touching a power line is how most people are killed in an inland storm.
GOING HOME AFTER THE STORM – When Katrina hit, and the dust had settled, many students who lived close enough to get home did so. We encourage students to do that, but will not want them to leave until after the storm is fully passed. Many took students from out of state with them, and that was a help since those left on campus (about 350 students) were sleeping on the floor in the one building where we had power.
TRUST GOD AND SUPPORT EACH OTHER – The Lord brought us through Katrina, and as a campus we were able to help others who were hit so much harder than we experienced. No matter where this storm hits the coast, many will suffer, and we’ll want to already be praying for those whose lives will be changed if the hurricane hits. We will want to respond and support whatever area is damaged on the coast.