“I lead my life by people rather than anything else," said Elon freshman Lilly Santiago.

It’s not just a mantra for this Elon student, but a way of life. 

As Hurricane Florence made its way to the North Carolina coast, Santiago kept holding on to the people and memories that matter the most to her in Wilmington.

"When something bad happens, I think, well how much more sad would I be if this happened," Santiago said.  

For Santiago, at the end of the day, it is not about the items on her shelf.

“I’ll probably just keep the pieces...I don't know," Santiago said.

She is still unsure about her home's condition. However, she has faith that the people she loves will get her through this hard time.

"If you have any communities that make you feel happy...you should go back to that," Santiago said.

For Santiago, it's the Jewish communities back home in Wilmington and at Elon that have helped her weather the storm.

"That’s the thing I love about Judaism and Jewish people. A lot of times they lost everything and they built themselves back up," Santiago said.  

While in the face of disaster, her faith is what she said is bringing her back to her core values and beliefs.

"Judaism to me brings me down to what I believe in life, and there’s me acting with that and me acting from that," Santiago said. 

Mendy Minkowitz is the Chabad Elon Jewish Student Center Rabbi. He said regardless of religious background, times of loss remind us to put life into perspective. 

“In incidents that make you lose everything, you find yourself that suddenly you went from being the man who had it all or the woman who had the most to the woman who has nothing," Rabbi Minkowitz said. 

While Santiago is dealing with this hardship, she continues to find comfort in her faith. 

"I believe in the power of prayer when I'm so scared," Santiago said.

She believes these prayers will make their way back home.

“Wilmington I think is going to be okay," Santiago said.


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