Have you ever noticed how much influence images have over our minds?

Just a couple days before Hurricane Florence struck the east coast, NASA released an image of a satellite view of the hurricane. After seeing the photo, I returned home, only to find myself glued to the TV. Never before had I watched the Weather Channel more religiously. Seeing that photo made it real to me that this was not just another hurricane. Fear began to creep in as I awaited anxiously to see the aftermath of the storm.  I did not know what to expect, but something in me knew it was not going to be good.

Images play both positive and negative roles in our perspective. Seeing the gigantic category four hurricane come straight for Wilmington conveyed differing messages to locals, UNCW students, and more. While students brought home items from college, others tried to take whatever valuables they could. Homeowners did not know whether to stay or to leave with what they could.

But there’s another side to images. Images only speak volume to what actually occurs within society. While volunteering with post cleanup, my roommate captured this photo of me. I did not notice how high the water had risen until I looked back on this image. We had torn down over eight feet of drywall over an hour and a half period of time.  In a world of visuals, this gave me perspective. If I had been in the room during the hurricane, I would be underwater, which is crazy to imagine!


Looking back over my time during the hurricane, I realized how selfish my thought process was. All I wanted to do was get back to normal. I wanted to be back in Wilmington, enjoying my senior year with my friends. It was not until I came back, that my thought process changed. What I saw was devastation and heartbreak. I was able to see the why UNCW had shut down for so long, how tired and worn our neighbors were from debris cleanup and more. Most importantly, I saw a need for community. While written messages were helpful, images gave a much clear visual.

While we were out of school, I volunteered with Samaritans Purse. Our main objective was house clean up, taking down dry wall and general yard clean up. Walking down streets and seeing piles of neighbors belongings made me count my blessings but also offered a sense of hope. The image below speaks power to the rest of the world. It communicates the need for people of all ages to help. More important, it is a call for college age students. As the next generation, we have influence over how the world operates. Workers were surprised to see college aged students volunteer their time, however, they were grateful for the support.


So go out. Serve in your community, Seahawks. In times like these, we need to show the world we are capable of more! Media coverage may have gone away but that does not stop the fact that the Wilmington area needs to come together as a community. You never know what the person beside you is going through.

While the worlds tells us it is a messed up place, we have influence! We have images and messages of hope and community to share with the rest of the world! Together, we can change that perspective. Changing our external communication starts with an internal change in our communication habits. If we tell our self there is something better, then we believe we can accomplish anything we put our minds to.

-Andrew Williams