In the early hours of Aug. 10, around 30 student athletes and coaches arrived at HSU after being evacuated from Lassen Community College (LCC) in Susanville, CA.
Four days later, the group made their way back to Susanville only to turn around on Aug. 18 and head back to HSU with another 70 students and staff.
Humboldt State University released a statement on Aug. 18 announcing the arrival of the now 100 plus LCC students.
“This is a difficult time for the LCC community and we ask HSU students, staff, and faculty to please keep them, their loved ones, and all the communities that have been affected by wildfires throughout the region in your thoughts,” the press release said.
HSU made sure to emphasize the precautionary measures that were being taken to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines. The press release said that majority of the students and staff were vaccinated, but they were all tested upon arrival at HSU to be sure there were no positive cases.
Back in Susanville, the LCC campus was being used as an evacuation shelter for those who had to leave their homes in surrounding areas. The college was well seasoned in this department as it had to act as a shelter on two separate occasions last year.
Trevor Albertson, President of LCC, knew that acting quickly and efficiently was important as conditions drastically started to deteriorate in the days leading up to the relocation of students and faculty to HSU.
“It was awful, we had smoke so thick that you couldn’t see 100 feet in front of you,” Albertson said. “We had ash and debris falling all over campus; it was just horrid.”
They said that you never really expect to deal with a situation like this until you are thrown into it.
Albertson is especially grateful for the help of President Tom Jackson who he called at 2 a.m. asking for help. Jackson instantly told Albertson to send his kids up to HSU and extended a helping hand without hesitation.
“There were people here who didn’t have a home, didn’t have food to eat and HSU gave them that,” Albertson said. “What is more basically human and decent than that.”
Albertson made a quick trip up to Humboldt on Aug. 22 to speak with their students and since then, the LCC students and staff have returned to their campus. Their classes remain online and they intend to begin in-person classes in a week.
One concern that Albertson said they are now facing for their student athletes is the impact the wildfires will have on their sports seasons.
Andray Chitehwe is a freshman on the men’s soccer team at LCC from Zimbabwe. They reflected on finding out the sudden news of relocating from Susanville to HSU and the time spent with their team in Humboldt.
“The first time we found out, I didn’t know what to expect,” Chitehwe said. “I was surprised by the news that we were relocating.”
Chitehwe also said that the time spent in Humboldt was enjoyable and they hope that they get to experience something similar, minus the circumstances, again. They said that the services that HSU provided were top notch.
Although the students were able to return to Susanville, LCC continues to house evacuees from surrounding towns that are still under threat. Fire crews have since left the college and moved elsewhere to continue their fight against the ongoing fires.