Students’ families prepare for Hurricane Florence landfall

Posted on Sep 13 2018 - 5:50am by Pierce Morrison and Kristen Bentley

As the East Coast makes preparations for Hurricane Florence, some students at Ole Miss from states such as Virginia and North Carolina are worrying about their families’ safety and, in some cases, their families’ sources of income.

North Carolina has already declared a state of emergency in anticipation of the arrival of Florence. It is supposed to make landfall north of Wilmington this weekend and has an expected radius of over 500 miles.

Hurricane Florence’s projected path as of 8:00 p.m. Wednesday shows the storm headed toward the Carolinas. The storm is expected to batter the East Coast with heavy rains and high winds through the weekend. Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“My mom told me to make a stash of jewelry to grab in case we evacuate, but she isn’t worried because she’s lived here (Wilmington) her whole life,” Wilmington, North Carolina, native and former Ole Miss student Caroline Roberts said.

Karen Gunther, resident of Wilmington, North Carolina, and aunt to Ole Miss senior Sara Doan, said if the storm was expected to be a category three or less, she would probably stay in town and not evacuate.

“We haven’t lived here more than a year, but our neighbors are saying that they will probably stay through the storm,” Gunther said.

Brooklyn McHugh, a junior integrated marketing communications major from Arlington, Virginia, said she is worried about her mom’s ice rink, Kettler Capitals IcePlex, because of the loss of business during the storm and because of the damage expected from the storm’s severity.

“The hurricane is definitely going to make my mom’s business take a blow,” McHugh said. “Figure skating lessons are a pay-by-day basis, and no one is going to want to figure skate when (there is) a category four hurricane outside. Since it’s a rooftop ice rink, they’re going to have to close the entire rink down because of all of the rain.”

McHugh noted that it is nearing a busy season for her mom’s business, as the holidays are right around the corner.

“My mom is doing as much as possible to prepare for the absolute worst of the worst, but I’m just worried that she’s going to lose a lot of her main source of income because of the damages caused,” McHugh said.

Hurricane Florence is expected to cause life-threatening damage and is now classified as a category three storm.

According to Mississippi Department of Transportation worker Tucker Stafford, safety is always the first priority of states when making preparations for a hurricane.

“States sometimes produce (contraflows) to reverse travel on the interstate to go inland,” Stafford said. “When the hurricane hits, emergency services could be postponed to increase the safety of emergency workers.”

He said after the storm, emergency workers will inspect roadways and bridges to make sure residents have a safe path back to their homes.

“They will make sure that nothing has been damaged so that all the lights are working properly and (so) that all the roads are cleared, so people can get back into their neighborhoods,” Stafford said.

Senior journalism major David Ballowe, who is from Richmond, Virginia, has been keeping in close contact with his family about their safety situation for the storm.

“My granddaddy is going to (my parents’) house to finally install our generator switch,” Ballowe said.

As most people do to prepare, Ballowe said that his family is stocking up on bottled water, filling up gas cans, filling up tubs and coolers with water and “praying everyday for it to be safe.”

Only one year after the tumultuous 2017 hurricane season, which included Hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma, it seems the federal government isn’t taking any risks preparing for Florence’s landfall later this week.

President Trump had a campaign rally planned in Jackson on Friday to endorse Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, but because of the projected intensity of the hurricane, one of his officials announced on Monday that he has canceled his trip.