Last Monday night, sitting in my apartment with my roommates, we theorized about school being canceled. We bet we'd get at least three or four days off. An e-mail appeared in our inboxes moments later confirming that, yes, classes would be canceled indefinitely, but at least for the remainder of the week. We cheered! We packed for an unexpected week at home. We invited friends to come with us, made plans for all the fun we'd have in this free time we weren't expecting to receive.
Tuesday, professors assigned extra homework, explained that the syllabus had been changed, and said, oh yes also be safe.
We scarcely mentioned the hurricane headed straight for our state, instead fixating on all the good of the week at home.
The hurricane went from Category 4 to 3 to 2 and hit the coast. Destruction and devastation, sure, but not as much as we expected. We saw our favorite beaches destroyed, familiar stretches of I-40 covered in water, and friends' boat docks crumpled to mere splinters.
We grieved these losses. And then we moved on.
Monday, we drove back to school. Tuesday it was sunny. By Wednesday, we were complaining about the stressful and mundane aspects of everyday life at university.
It is important that the fact we were spared major damage in this storm here on campus and likely at home not allow us to become complacent. There are people all over North Carolina who were not so lucky, and students at UNC Wilmington have no idea when they will return to school or even if they will be able to this semester. Wilmington residents do not know the true damage to their homes, because the road into their city has collapsed. New Bern is under water. Dozens of small towns and coastal communities are in similar or worse condition, but receiving substantially less media attention due to their lack of commercial value.
Florence did not hit us as hard as she could have, but she still destroyed much of our state and uprooted the livelihoods of hundreds of people. Thousands were evacuated from the coast, and many of those have not returned home even to assess the damage yet.
As the floodwaters recede, it is important that we remember that we are very lucky to have a school to attend right now. We are very lucky not to have lost everything. Most of all, we are lucky to be part of a state in which the community supports others when able. There are a number of ways to get involved in the recovery efforts following Hurricane Florence so help where you can!