Flood memories will fade

Justin Marinelli


The Great Flood of 2011 may be nearing its first anniversary, but the effects of it are still around, creating a psychological divide between the upperclassmen students, this year’s first-years and all incoming classes from now on.

For those innocent first-years reading this, allow me to explain. Last year, when Hurricane Irene rolled by, it rained hard enough that the soil ended up saturated with rain water. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except a few days later, Tropical Storm Lee arrived. Because the rain had nowhere to go, it stuck around. As the rain poured, the water continued to rise. Eventually, local businesses had to close, professors found themselves unable to drive to the University and students living downhill had to evacuate to dorms on higher ground.

For most of us, it wasn’t too horrible. Classes got cancelled, we made new friends (I met one of my best friends here because he needed a place to camp and chose my hall’s common room) and we even got some cool shirts out of it. However, others were not so lucky. Zelda’s Cafe was shut down for months and many other local businesses suffered because of the catastrophe.

We now have a first-year class that has never seen 7th Street become a river, had to sleep in the field house or had the experience of getting drunk on a raft in the Smith parking lot and declaring it a pirate ship, as a few enterprising individuals did. They don’t carry the psychological scars that we do. They will never look up at an overcast sky and feel that same mix of fear, hope and nostalgia that deep down we all experience when we gaze at rain clouds. For them, the idea of a day off from classes is a quaint idea, not a harrowing experience.

This is not something we tend to think about too much, but it is still important to acknowledge. It is impossible to deny that there is now a lasting divide between the first-years and everyone else (and especially the current sophomores). Last year was my first year, and I can’t help but realize that when I’m a senior, my class will be the only ones to remember the Great Flood of 2011. That stuns me.

For the class of 2015, the flood was both an incredible bonding experience and a metaphor for how our lives are going to be: unpredictable and dramatic. It is events like these that  shape us into extraordinary people. We are defined by it, more than any other class, because it happened so early in our college experience, before we had even really settled in. We will always be children of the flood.

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