Impact of Hurricane Florence

Hurricane Florence was classified as a category one hurricane when it made landfall along the Carolinas on Sept. 14. The lingering of this enormous storm has had a tremendous impact, especially to those along the east coast.
The hurricane was originally predicted to make landfall as a category five, but slowly transitioned into a category one as it approached closer to land. Although the wind gusts were still very strong, the torrential rainfall is what has caused the most damage throughout the state.
Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency during his live press conference on Sept. 10, informing citizens about the dangers of the storm. He also mentioned the preparations being made to maintain safety.
“Our emergency operations center here has been activated and we have meteorologists, emergency responders, public health experts, the utilities, the national guards, critical volunteer groups already on site.”
Two days after the Governor’s Conference, William Peace University was temporarily shut down for the hurricane. Classes started back on Sept. 17 when conditions were safe enough for students to commute.
Residents were scrambling last week to get supplies ready before the storm worsened, including freshman at Peace, Christina Valentic. Although the storm did not hit Raleigh as hard as expected, she still wanted to take safety measures with the possibility of a change in forecast.
“My parents bought a lot of water and canned foods in case of power outage. We also put our vehicles out of harm’s way regarding trees.”
Although the governor warned people about the severity of the hurricane, there was no stopping the amount of damage the storm would bring.
Hurricanes are notorious for producing torrential rain that causes flash flooding, which is a major threat for people living inland, particularly in urban areas. This has been proven true this week with Florence’s abnormal rise in sea level, also known as a storm surge, which has been the deadliest factor of the storm.
Certain counties throughout the state have experienced record high rainfall, which has left towns and cities under water. Wilmington is one coastal town in particular that has experienced some of the worst flooding and mass destruction from the storm.
Rebekah Ratliff, junior at UNCW, has been affected by the hurricane in numerous ways. She has been checking in on her home away from home very frequently over the past week.  
“I live in Wilmington just a few miles from UNCW’s campus on the third floor of an apartment building. I packed up some clothes, my most valuable items, brought in the chairs off of the balcony and left town before Hurricane Florence landed,” said Ratliff. “I headed to my dad’s house and just prayed that my building didn’t flood or get hit by a tree.”
Luckily, her apartment did not receive any damage and she plans to return back to her belongings as soon as the roads are safe for travel.
The endless amounts of rainfall has also led to schools and universities being shut down, including UNCW. Ratliff  has not been back to campus since she evacuated. 
“We have been getting emails and Facebook updates from the school regularly and as of now, classes are cancelled until Sept. 21. They have assured us they will give us at least a 72 hour notice for when classes will resume because they have not finished assessing the damages on campus,” said Ratliff.  
With the extension of class cancellations, professors are going to have to make drastic changes to their syllabi in order to accommodate for the lost time.
“I was supposed to have three tests last week that got disrupted and I haven’t been able to do my online classes because our websites have been shut down,” said Ratliff. “It’s a very frustrating and sad situation to be in, but our community is strong and we have a lot of support. I know we’ll be able to persevere.”  
President Donald Trump arrived on Sept. 19 to survey the wreckage on the coast, as the death toll grew to at least 27. The president reassured residents after a conversation with Gov. Cooper with concerns of finances.
“We’re getting all teed up for a lot of money to come down to the area,” said President Trump. “You’re going to need it, and we have it, and we will be supplying it. And there will be nothing left undone. You’ll have everything you need.”
Although Hurricane Florence has caused widespread damage throughout the state, communities are staying strong with high hopes of restoring the damaged areas.
There are numerous ways in which WPU is supporting those who have been directly affected and are still dealing with the aftermath of this storm. WPU’s President Dr. Brian Ralph stated in an email on Sept. 20 ways that the Pacer community can help.
WPU’s counseling service and Chaplain Carter are ready to help those in need. Students and families who have been directly impacted and are still experiencing challenges, email Pacer Athletics is hosting #PeaceforTheEastCoast in Hermann Gym collecting items for people after the hurricane, and the SGA and PACT are also discussing an alternate Fall Break to bring support to those in need.
“I just want all of our state to come together as a whole and support one another,” said WPU junior, Mary Todd. “I hope by the end of this tragic event we will become closer as a state.”

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