Families prepare for looming Hurricane Florence

Counties in both North and South Carolina have been told to evacuate in preparation for the storm. Those in teal have been mandated to evacuate, those in grey have been given the option to evacuate on a voluntary basis. Evacuation information gathered from ClickonDetroit.com. Liesje Powers | Multimedia Editor

By Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer

Hurricane Florence arrived at the edge of the Carolina coast Thursday, and families are battening down the hatches.

According to CNN, at least five people have died in the storm so far, including a mother and an infant. On Friday, Florence came ashore and was downgraded to a tropical storm, which means winds less than 74 miles per hour. However, the National Hurricane Center’s criteria for a storm’s severity only accounts for wind, not rainfall.

Students with family in the Carolinas are concerned about flooding back in their hometowns.

Myrtle Beach, S.C. senior Raven Grant said her family is primarily worried about the aftermath of the flooding.

“We’re just really concerned with the damage it’s going to do, like the flooding,” Grant said. “Basically, there’s a lot of hurricanes that happen in South Carolina, like there’s probably a hurricane about every year, but the main problem is the flooding. On the coast, the flooding is so bad that a sedan would probably be covered in water. Lots of people live on the rivers, so the water could flood into your house; you could have water damage.”

Grant’s father lives in Myrtle Beach, which is under mandatory evacuation, but Charleston, where her mother lives, no longer needs to be evacuated. According to Grant, the hurricane is supposed to hit the Grand Strand, a continuous stretch of beach, more than the Low Country, the southern end of the coast.

According to WTVD (ABC11 Raleigh-Durham), there have been over 788,000 power outages in North Carolina as of 10 p.m. Friday.

Dr. Pedro Reyes, associate professor of operations and supply chain management, has researched smart humanitarian, supply chain and crisis management. He pointed out that with today’s technology, hurricanes’ paths are much more accurately predicted.

“We can kind of pinpoint what’s ahead with technology now, and so we know that they’re coming, and by that we can position the inventory, position the needed supplies — medical supplies, water and other necessary supplies in advance of the hurricane so that when it does hit, they’re able to respond much more quickly than before,” Reyes said.

Reyes’ daughter was in Beaumont finishing her undergraduate degree when Hurricane Harvey hit. The hurricane was not predicted to hit that area.

“There was a lot of damage: vehicles totaled, complexes torn down, levees broken,” Reyes said. “Look what happened in Houston — the infrastructure in Houston was not designed to handle a hurricane, even though one of the greatest disasters in recent history was just a few miles away. I don’t think you can fully prepare for what’s going to happen.”

In the case of Florence, the situation is complicated by the fact that it has slowed down, but the water level is still high.

“This particular case will be interesting because it’s slowed down,” Reyes said. “It’s going to linger awhile. So that’s going to give some challenges in terms of the proper response, but I’m sure a command center has already been set up based on where we anticipate the hit to come.”

According to Reyes, in the short term, infrastructure needs to be rebuilt and people need supplies, but recovery can typically take three to five years.

“In terms of immediate need, [that] would be getting the infrastructure back up, getting communication back up, finding the people that have been hurt or injured and taking care of the people first. In terms of supply, they’re going to need drinking water and they’ll need clothing,” Reyes said.

Grant’s life at Baylor is uninterrupted by the hurricane, not because she downplays its threat, but because she trusts God.

“I’m really strong in my faith, so I know God’s going to take care of me and my family and he’s not going to let anything happen that I can’t handle,” Grant said. “I’m not going to let worry take over my life because I have a lot going on here — I’m on the track team, and I’m busy. And I know my family is taking care of what they need to do to protect themselves. There’s nothing I can do — that’s out of my control.”

Reyes said the best thing for students to do to help with the hurricane is to give financially.

“I’m sure there’s going to be a request for donations,” Reyes said. “The biggest thing that people do not think about is that families have lost a lot of things. They probably don’t have money.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.