Coquihalla flooding, provided by Flickr

The recent storm has brought devastation and loss on the east coast of British Columbia. People are displaced, and there are massive food shortages and property damage across the province. Through this climate crisis, some UBCO students have been thrown into precarious situations at the end of the midterm break. I spoke to two UBCO students who have been stuck in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver about their current situations and how it is now affecting their academic life.

The first student, who wishes to remain anonymous, was in Victoria and tried to go back to Kelowna on Sunday, November 14th. They got stuck in Abbotsford with a damaged car. They soon ended up in a hotel, and their mother was able to find someone for the student to stay with for the next night. The main road was completely blocked off and they lost power and their water supply. On Wednesday, November 17th, they managed to find a way back into Vancouver and to Victoria to be with their family. They did not expect to be back for at least a week at the point of contact (Wednesday, November 17th) as gas stations were empty and they were running out of money--so they could not purchase a flight. The majority of this student’s professors were understanding and accommodating and gave 3–5-day extensions. Unfortunately, two of their professors did not have such an accommodating response. One gave only a 24 hour extension and insisted that a quiz had to be done that day whilst the student was still in crisis. Moreover, the other professor and TA’s were unresponsive for two days at the time, which the student noted to be new, as before the storm, communication had been relatively quick. The precarious and stressful nature of the situation forced the student into accepting zeros on assignments and they are therefore compromising their grades.

Marco Adriko is a second-year political science and humanities student from Uganda. At the time of the storm, he was in Vancouver. He was anxious when the situation called for him to remain in Vancouver because of his large workload coming down to the end of the semester. He was able to seek accommodation with the friend he was staying with at the time, which lessened some of the stress that came with the situation, as he did not have to spend extra on hotel and transportation fees. He was also lent a laptop so that he could catch up on some of the work he was missing. Additionally, he credits his family members for being a strong support system, providing guidance, solace, and encouragement as they all planned his return to campus. As an international student, the idea of being stuck in an unfamiliar place can be especially terrifying. Marco noted he would not have had so little stressors if he had not planned to have a good food and transportation budget, as well as emergency funds that carried him through the extra days he had to stay. His main concern was figuring out how to get back to campus. Unlike the professors of the first student, Marco’s professors were highly accommodating and understanding, and he was given extensions and encouragement. Not surprisingly, he had some work to catch up on upon his return, but it was not as overwhelming as he had imagined because of the support he had received. 

We asked other students on our social media whether they or someone they knew had been affected by the recent flooding, and most students said yes. Students cited other issues like food insecurity, something many of us in Kelowna can relate to now that food shelves are bare. One student lamented about having to order a kid’s meal from Dairy Queen just to get fruit and milk. Another vegetarian student said the sudden transition to frozen foods from fresh produce has severely hampered their energy levels, physical wellness, and productivity. If you are experiencing food insecurity, please visit the Pantry for help. UBCO is also offering emergency financial support for students affected by the flooding. 

Evidently, many UBCO students are struggling in the final stretch of the semester in a variety of ways. From battling food insecurity, physical isolation, property damage, and academic hits, this storm and the ever-worsening climate change has made the end of this semester unimaginably difficult. Luckily there are many professors that are willing to accommodate and support students. However, there are also many professors who are rigid, unaccommodating, and act like the schedule is set in stone when they are the ones who have made it in the first place. Support can make a world of a difference for how students are able to respond to natural disasters like this flooding. The last thing people need while facing physical isolation, food shortages, and power outages is a lab due at 11:59pm.