When a Hurricane Hits Home: Students Brace For Florence

Alex Domb
Satellite image showing Hurricane Florence approaching the East Coast.

Although the American southeast is projected to be hardest hit by Hurricane Florence, NYU’s community won’t be immune to its impacts. Many NYU students hail from states that will, over the next few days, be hit by what could be one of the strongest hurricanes to reach the United States in decades.

As of Wednesday evening, Florence was measured at Category three, which means its winds are predicted to sustain at 111 to 129 mph. The hurricane is expected to make landfall Thursday night. States expected to be hit hardest include North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Georgia; multiple counties within these states have issued mandatory evacuation orders and major highways are temporarily running in just one direction — inland.

NYU is not unaware of challenges the hurricane may pose for many of its students.

“Student Affairs’ current thinking is to send an outreach letter to affected students [Thursday], which is in line with what they customarily do in the event of major emergencies,” NYU Spokesman John Beckman said. “The letter that Student Affairs sends will offer every student access to assistance regarding finances, academic accommodations, personal and spiritual counselling, and services offered by the StudentLink Center.”

Tisch sophomore Brian Cheng, who is from Vienna, Virginia, is most worried about his mother.

“My mom lives by herself most of the time,” Cheng said. “The fact is, if there’s flooding, I’m not sure she’d be able to deal with it on her own.”

Cheng, like many other students from affected states, said he would consider traveling home after the hurricane has passed to help with recovery efforts. But this poses a conundrum for NYU students from the southeast; because New York City does not fall in the storm’s projected path, NYU classes are expected to continue as normal during and after the storm — in sharp contrast to schools in the southeast, many of which have been closed since Tuesday.

Steinhardt junior Caroline McKissick grew up in Greenville, South Carolina. Although her hometown is far from the coast, she has many friends who live closer to the Atlantic. Most of those friends, she said, are evacuating and traveling inland, while those from her own hometown are simply stocking up on groceries and gas. From what she’s learned, Florence has the potential to hit her state harder than others in in recent years.

“Most of the people who live on the southern coast know how to prepare for a hurricane and are familiar with protocol, but the reality of Florence is a very serious one,” McKissick said. “People are worried.”

While the storm could have dire consequences, some NYU students’ families are maintaining a sense of humor.

“I texted my parents a picture of the forecast for our town — where the wind gusts are apparently gonna be up to 80 mph — and my mom just said ‘yeehaw,’” Liberal Studies first-year Marguerite Alley, who comes from Durham, North Carolina, said.

At this point, it remains unclear if the hurricane will hit as hard as it is predicted to, and which locations will be most severely affected. The United States had two devastating hurricanes in the 2017 hurricane season: Hurricane Harvey, which pummeled Texas with floods, and Hurricane Maria, which decimated Puerto Rico and killed nearly three thousand U.S. citizens.

Students who wish to travel home to support family or aid in recovery efforts will almost certainly need to miss classes to do so. Cheng feels NYU administrators should grant affected students formal Leaves of Absence, while Alley believes other community members should step in to help out.

“If it really is as bad as they say it’s gonna be, then North Carolina is gonna need a lot of help from aid organizations that may have branches on campus,” Alley said.

 

Email Alex Domb at [email protected].

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