As Hurricane Lane continues to strike the Big Island in Hawaii, the Grand Rapids Community College volleyball team is headed home.
Hurricane Lane, a Category 3 storm, has picked up winds of up to 120 miles an hour, according to The New York Times and flooded the islands with over 31 inches of rain in the last 24 hours, but the storm is expected to decrease in strength by tonight, according to Wayne Hoepner, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Grand Rapids.
“It’s been slowly decreasing in strength,” Hoepner said. “The trouble is it’s not moving very fast, so there’s a lot of rain falling. Their main problems right now are going to be flooding mainly from rainfall as well as landslides, mudslides. It is slowly dying, but it’s not moving very fast.”
Hurricane Lane is likely to head north and then left, according to Hoepner, weakening the storm’s power.
“It is still a Category 3 and it’s moving really slowly to the north around 6 p.m.,” Hoepner said. “It’s expected to slowly go north and die and then eventually it’s going to head off to the left. They’re expecting that later today.”
In a text to The Collegiate, sophomore volleyball player Kendra DeJonge described the current conditions where the team is staying.
“It’s rainy and windy here, the hotel has been flooding in the elevators and now the lobby,” DeJonge said. “Also, the sea level has risen a lot. There’s a lot of landslides and road closings which is why we couldn’t travel across the island yesterday.”
Everyone involved with the school and athletic department is hoping for the team’s safe return and doing everything in their power to see to it. The Collegiate reached out to GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn, and he was thankful for the work that everyone has been doing during this difficult time.
“When we heard about Hurricane Lane and its threat to Hawaii, it was the college’s sole mission to bring our team home safely,” Firn said via text message. “Throughout the process, that has been our focus. I’m grateful for Dean Hoxie, Provost Chesley and President Pink for their leadership and support in working towards doing so. We are planning to continue to listen to local authorities on the island as well as United Airlines. We have plans in place for the team if they are able to fly tonight as scheduled or if their flight is delayed.”
This story was updated on Fri., Aug. 24 at 7:55 p.m. to include a statement from GRCC Athletic Director Bill Firn.