Residential services offers early move-in for some students ahead of Hurricane Florence


Travis Long/The News & Observer/TNS

Wind and rainfall hit the east coast Thursday ahead of Hurricane Florence. Residential services offered some students from impacted areas an early move-in at no extra cost.

Alan Perez, Campus Editor

Northwestern residential services is offering some students an early move-in ahead of a catastrophic storm expected to bring hurricane-force winds, power outages and torrential rainfall.

More than 100 students expected to live on campus in the fall were offered accommodations on Wednesday after three states ordered mandatory evacuations ahead of Hurricane Florence. At least three students have replied to the offer, which comes at no extra cost.

“Early move-in would help a great deal for those who are in a position where they are evacuating, said Mark D’Arienzo, the senior associate director for residential administrative services. “It’s one less thing that they and their families need to worry about.”

The eye of the Category Two storm is expected to reach land early Friday morning, but strong winds and rain have already reached the southeastern coast, and the storm could surge past its current 110 miles an hour speed back up to a Category Four.

Communication junior Diego Abraham, a native of Wilmington, North Carolina, will escape the chaos, but is stuck in Puerto Rico after his Saturday flight home was cancelled. More than 3,000 flights have been cancelled this week, including 164 Saturday flights, according to airline tracking service FlightAware.

Still, Abraham said he’s worried about flooding in his home, his community, and especially his dog, Tiago, who is staying with a sitter. “I’m kind of scared for that little dude,” he said.

Hurricane Florence winds have died down since it formed, but forecasters are warning of up to 13 feet of storm surge and 40 inches of rain as they predict the storm will slow and stall over land.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency has mobilized resources in states along the Atlantic Seaboard to help after the storm, which could hover for days before FEMA steps into action. The hurricane will be a test for the embattled agency, which last year received heavy criticism after its lackluster response to Hurricane Maria.

Four states and the District of Columbia have issued emergency declarations, and the major power supplier for the Carolinas warned of widespread power outages for up to three million customers.

Scientists point to climate change as a factor of Florence’s devastating potential. Warming temperatures won’t increase the number or frequency of storms, but they have made cyclones more impactful, said earth and planetary sciences Prof. Daniel Horton.

“That has to do simply with the idea that warmer water can fuel these tropical cyclones and make them stronger,” he explained. “The energy from the tropical cyclones that form comes from the ocean water. And if ocean water is warmer, you’re going to have stronger storms.”

The early move-in would be relief for student evacuees, who could avoid rearranging plans and simply travel to Northwestern early.

Abraham, whose town is expected to bear the hurricane’s eye, said he’ll only have a few days to evaluate the damage before returning to school.

“Wilmington, North Carolina is not a city you often see come up on a national map,” he said. “I’ve got that excitement that my town’s getting reps for once in the national news, but goddamn it hurts my heart that it’s for the reason that it could potentially be wiped off the map.”

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