Hurricane Florence slams East Coast, impacts 5C students and families

As Hurricane Florence pounded North and South Carolina last week, several students from the Claremont Colleges braced for the worst and feared for their families living in the region.

Some students reported flooding and power outages in the homes of their families or friends after Hurricane Florence touched down in North Carolina Sept. 14. Since then, the natural disaster has killed at least thirty two people, according to BBC.

In the coming days, coastal residents will continue to face flooding from groundwater — something the Carolinas have not experienced since the last major hurricane struck over 20 years ago.

Several 5C students, such as Conor Woods PO ’20, have ties to the Carolinas.

Woods said his grandparents’ home in Southport, N.C., is still without power a week after the storm. He added that 90 miles of highway is closed in Southport because of flooding.

His grandparents were visiting family in Vermont when the hurricane arrived, so his parents drove three and a half hours from Charlotte on Friday to shore up their house in Southport to prepare for the storm.

“[They] shuttered the windows, bought a generator, water, [and] gas,” he said.

The damages in his hometown, Charleston, S.C., were less severe than expected, Woods said. His parents stocked up on supplies because they thought Charleston would be hit hard.

Dylan Siegel PZ ’20 lives in New York City but has family all over North Carolina, including in Charlotte, Chapel Hill, and the coastal city of Wilmington.

Although Wilmington was one of the most devastated cities in North Carolina during Hurricane Florence, Siegel said his cousins had elevated their homes in Wilmington as a result of past hurricanes.

“They didn’t face as many problems as a lot of people [in Wilmington] because they elevated their home,” he said.

Siegel added that his family members know how frightening and devastating hurricanes can be after living through Hurricane Fran in 1996.

“My grandma was in her bathtub and [the hurricane] took the roof off her house as she was lying down in the bathtub, looking up at the roof flying away,” Siegel said.

While coastal cities are still dealing with the aftermath, inland cities evaded the path of Florence.

Jaida Potts PO ’21, who was born in Charlotte, N.C. and grew up farther inland in Fort Mill, S.C., said her family only experienced heavy rains from the hurricane.

However, the storm has had an impact on her family because her father works at Duke Energy and is dealing with widespread power outages in the region. “Because [Duke Energy] is the major provider for the area, he has to work because no one has power,” she said.

Potts said she has friends attending University of South Carolina in Columbia, S.C., and they were evacuated because Colombia is flat and close to the coast.

Pomona College’s Dean of Students Avis Hinkson reached out to students on Friday about the devastation of the hurricane. She urged students in need of support to utilize campus resources, including Monsour Counseling and Psychological Services.

“I and others at the College are with you in concern,” Hinkson wrote in an email to Pomona students. “We have Pomona College community members as well as family and friends who live in the regions impacted by this storm.”

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