It was the day the Island closed, but Runions had somewhere to be

By Haley-Lynn Bohan

Jan. 11, 2017

Outside, the visibility was reduced to zero, a wall of white.

There was a snow squall warning on top of a storm surge warning on top of a wind warning.

P.E.I. closed that day.

But it didn’t stop a Holland College student.

Sarah Runions was packing to go home to Ontario when she realized she had a problem.

“I forgot to get my food for my fish so they could live over Christmas break.”

Despite the storm raging outside, Runions put on her snow gear and walked to the nearest pet store.

The storm itself was a whole other experience for Runions.

“Being from Ontario, it was quite the experience to see the roads pretty much being skating rinks.”

Because of the weather, all stores had delayed opening.

“That made things interesting.”

When the store finally opened, Runions got the food and headed back to Glendenning Hall where she carefully watched the Air Canada website to make sure she would still be leaving for Montreal the next morning.

To distract herself from staring at the computer screen and the thought she may not get home the next day, she and a few friends went to see Rogue One. The theatre was packed.

But not every student in residence was willing to brave the storm. Amber MacGregor chose to stay put.

She had a plan to go home to New Glasgow, N.S., a plan she had to cancel.

“I was supposed to write my exam that day and go home afterwards.”

Instead, she got snowed in, not even able to take her exam.

“It was bull.”

Luckily, she didn’t have to wait around to take the exam the following Monday.

She had the option to take it Monday morning at the college, or take it online from home.

She chose the latter, leaving at 5:30 the next morning.

As for the residence, MacGregor said it was depressing.

Everyone was stuck. Roads were off limits and flights got cancelled.

But among the gloom, RLAs (Residence Life Advisors) tried to lighten the mood with a movie and hot chocolate night, MacGregor said.

“They tried to make everyone decently happy since we were all stuck here.”

Lucas Picard, one of the RLAs who helped come up with the movie night, said they did it for the people who were stuck in residence due to delayed flights or bad roads to cheer them up.

“What better than to have a movie night and hot chocolate day on a stormy day.”

He said about nine people came to the event, curled up with their hot chocolates and blankets to watch The Notebook.

After the movie was over, Picard ended up braving the roads himself since the plows had gone back on the road.

A ride which would normally take him 45 minutes took him two hours.

“Longest drive ever.”

But he said it wasn’t the roads that were bad. What made the drive longer for him was his lack of winter tires.

“I just drove really slow. There was black ice and snow drifts, but other than that, the plows did a really good job on the highway.”

The roads made it stressful for many students said accommodations manager Tracey Gallacher Campbell.

For seven days, Campbell travelled to the residence at 4:30 a.m. to bring students to the airport, saving them a $20 taxi ride, only to have many call back saying their flight was cancelled due to weather.

“For me personally, the storm day was a day to relax, but my heart broke for some kids.”

She said winter break is always tough for students weather wise, every year.

“I always cringe around that time.”

But thankfully, all students who were travelling home eventually made it home safely, and residence closed at the regular holiday time, ready to be opened again on Jan. 2.