About a week ago, I learned what it really means to be a benefit to the community, no thanks in part to the rain.
The torrential downpour last Wednesday was the worst I can recall from my years here. The minor rain from the previous day was in no way comparable to what was coming down for most, if not all of Wednesday. Buckets of rain were dumped down on campus and the surrounding area for most of the day, turning everyone into drowned rats.
After returning from class to the radio station, my second home on campus, I learned that all classes after 3 p.m. were cancelled. I hopped onto the final campus shuttle a little later in the afternoon, as all later OCCT bus runs were cancelled because of the severity of the storm, and contentedly kept to my apartment for the evening.
Thursday was a totally different story. The buses, both OCCT and BC Transit, were still not operating, so I leisurely walked down to campus and eventually made my way to the station to find that a former general manager and station regular had commandeered things for emergency broadcasting. Whoa.
I was quickly brought up to date on the flooding and river situation in the area and proceeded to lend my help for a few hours, looking up news updates, going on air with the information and answering the phones. But constantly looking up and finding similar information by refreshing the same 10 or so Twitter feeds and checking local news sites got a mite repetitive.
Initially, our efforts seemed to be just that. Efforts. But we kept pushing out update after update on air and on the blog and we got feedback in the form of local callers, saying things along the lines of “Thank you so much,” and “I have an update about flooding in an area.” People were listening to hear if or how their area was affected by the rising water, or for advisories telling them to boil or conserve water, and to hear from the community was an absolutely amazing feeling.
Over the following two days, I did what I could to help out with the broadcasting. Finding the information wasn’t as tedious as Thursday as updates were more organized and less chaotic, thankfully. Come Saturday, I turned the aggregating and posting over to another station member, as I made it my intent to take the weekend for catching up on homework.
What impacted me the most about the entire ordeal was how many people turned to and thanked a college radio station whose members took matters into their own hands. Seeing a community come together like this, especially with the recovery effort on campus and in the area, is like nothing else I’ve seen.
Thankfully, in the last week, the situation has been slowly improving. But what can we expect in the long run from the community — and for the community — because of the historic flooding? I’ll leave the musing up to the local government and you, dear reader.