Charleston student flees to Vanderbilt to escape Hurricane Matthew


Dallas Shatel, Deputy Editor in Chief

Lauren and Rachel Parola

University of Charleston senior Rachel Parola found herself in a tight spot on Tuesday when she learned that her school was being evacuated due to Hurricane Matthew’s imminent arrival. While most of her friends found flights home or were bussed to neighboring schools like the University of South Carolina and Clemson, Parola decided to drive the nine hours to Nashville to stay with her sister, sophomore Lauren Parola.

“I tried to fly [home to Rhode Island] but they were all booked,” Parola said. “I luckily brought my car down to school this year, so I just called up my sister and was like ‘I’m coming to stay with you.’ I have an uncle and aunt in Georgia but I thought it would be more fun to come here.”

University of Charleston students received emails on Tuesday instructing them to evacuate campus, as the city of Charleston was to also be evacuated. Some students chose to go to other South Carolina schools that had not been evacuated. Others who lived in the area went home to ride out the hurricane. It wasn’t until Saturday that the storm actually hit South Carolina.

This isn’t the first time that the students of University of Charleston have experienced disruptions due to hurricane weather. Just last year the school was closed for a hurricane. As it is unclear what the full damage that the storm will cause will be or when it will be over, the university has not told students when they may be able to return to campus. Parola is unsure of the status of her off-campus apartment.

“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” she said. “I live in an apartment off-campus on the first floor, so we were definitely worrying if it was going to flood. I don’t know if it did or not. My roommates and I were all just kind of scrambling to pack and do everything, but I’ve just been trying to not think about it too much.”

Hurricane Matthew made its first landfall in the U.S. Saturday morning in South Carolina but has been affecting areas from Florida all the way up to southeast Virginia, already claiming 10 U.S. lives and flooding areas with eight to 20 inches of rainfall. The worst damage caused by the storm has been in Haiti, where it has taken hundreds of lives.

“There’s a lot of other places where it was a lot worse, so I’m just trying to be grateful that I was able to go somewhere else and that I didn’t have to stay there,” Parola said.

Parola went on a Birthright trip with Vanderbilt students, so she has been visiting her friends on the Vanderbilt campus from that trip while her younger sister studies for exams.