The Fury of Hurricane Florence

Allen Fleming, Staff

On Friday, September 14, at 7:15 A.M.  EDT, Hurricane Florence made its initial landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina. The elements of Florence, including  30-36 inches of rain, 11-foot storm surges, and wind speeds of 90 mph and gusts reaching 105 mph, resulted in 43 deaths and approximately $44 billion dollars in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

On Tuesday, September 11, states of emergency had been declared for both North and South Carolina, as well as mandatory evacuation orders for seven counties in North Carolina and eight counties in South Carolina. Prior to landfall, Carolinians were boarding houses and businesses, filling sandbags and creating levees, and buying hurricane survival supplies.

The demand for bottled water, batteries, and canned goods forced residents in Florence’s path to drive for hours to find supplies in stock and caused local stores to apply purchasing limits per person. Evacuees also clogged the interstate and major highways in an attempt to escape the approaching storm.

Following landfall in Wrightsville Beach, North Carolina, the storm moved throughout the states of North and South Carolina at an average of 5 mph, resulting in prolonged winds, storm surge, and rainfall. Major cities that were affected were Wilmington, NC, New Bern, NC, and Jacksonville, NC.

Despite the change of Hurricane Florence’s path, counties in southeastern Virginia remained at risk of being damaged by the storm, causing some Virginians to feel the need to evacuate. Governor Ralph Northam issued mandatory evacuation orders for Evacuation Zone A on Monday, September 10.

This was later lifted on Friday, September 14, however, that did not prevent some Grafton students from evacuating. Sophomore Haely Rush and her family decided to evacuate from the projected path of Hurricane Florence.

“My parents are the type of people who watch the news a lot, so they planned ahead like they always do. Our house is under remodeling, so they got scared as well. I didn’t have a choice. They were very stern on it and I had to go,” Haely said. “I didn’t bring much of anything; just clothes and basic stuff. We came back two days later.”

Sophomore Wyatt Clark also made the decision with his family to evacuate to Washington D.C. on Wednesday, September 12.

“My mom was afraid of flooding,” Wyatt said. “We returned on Sunday because the hurricane’s path changed. Personally, I regret evacuating because the hurricane didn’t hit us.”

Regardless of the outcome of southeastern Virginia, the Carolinas were devastatingly impacted. There are fundraising efforts still going on to help our neighboring states in this time of crisis.