On Friday, Hurricane Florence hit the coastal Carolinas, forcing thousands of residents to relocate and creating tens of billions of dollars in damage.

For many Yalies from the affected states on the east coast, Florence has added a layer of stress and insecurity to their lives beyond campus.

“The devastation goes beyond the death toll,” said Jessica Kong ’21, who’s from Richmond, Virginia. She encourages Yalies to “keep it at the top of [their] mind.”

Compared to other tropical storms that have hit the United States in previous years, Florence is longer and has had a more severe aftermath. Despite having comparatively slower Category 1 sustained wind speeds, the storm system as a whole has moved very slowly, leading to inland flooding due to “hurricane-force winds much longer than they would otherwise have been,” according to a Sept. 13 report in Time Magazine.

Yalies from the affected cities gave the News a glimpse into the storm’s impact on their hometowns.

Kate Kushner ’21 from Raleigh, North Carolina said her parents experienced “maybe 24 hours” of sustained heavy winds and rain. With schools closed for several days and businesses halted for the worst of the storm, shelters opened up for residents closer to the North Carolina coast, Kushner said.

“There should just be more awareness of how heavily some communities are affected,” Kushner said. She added that people should understand the storm’s impact is “not all equal across different parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.”

“Communities just have to be more prepared,” said Kushner, whose home was not significantly damaged by the storm. “People need to recognize that there’s a lot of recovery to happen even after the storm passes.”

For Emily Slaughter ’21 and her family, the impact of the hurricane in their hometown of Rockville, Virginia was less severe than expected. Slaughter said that a collective anxiety set in throughout her community as they faced a potential natural disaster they “never had to think about before.”

At a Costco warehouse near her family home, customers were fighting over the “20 generators they still had” on an evening before the storm hit the region, Slaughter said. On another morning, the store ran out of drinking water in 45 minutes.

Kong, the sophomore from Virginia, also said that although her immediate family and neighbourhood in Richmond were “fine,” a nearby high school suffered severe roofing damage,  and the breakdown of a warehouse killed a resident from her town.

“Even if this hurricane doesn’t have as high a death toll as others, because that’s the statistic that sticks out to us, we often forget how much people have to rebuild,” Kong said. “It’s basically unlivable.”

Florence struck North Carolina as a Category 1 hurricane.

Allison Park | allison.park@yale.edu